The Bedford Planning Board is one step closer to declaring the so-called Page Hill subdivision in default.
On Tuesday, the board heard a presentation by David Manugian, Director of the Department of Public Works, and Town Engineer Michael Sprague regarding the lack of progress on promises made over nearly 30 years.
The Board recommended that the DPW reach out to the developer one more time and then proceed with the default process if no additional actions are taken.
Sprague explained that the subdivision was originally approved in 1997 and is now entering its final stages. Fifty-eight houses have been built along the two miles of road that make up the Page Hill project, comprising Crestview Road, parts of Robinson and Overlook Drives, and Goldman Circle. The original builder was Yvon Cormier Construction of Andover.
In 2013, the DPW noted that several items bonded in the original subdivision approval had not been completed. Sprague estimated that it will now cost roughly $900,000 to complete all of the items required by the bond.
He reported that plantings were not added, asphalt was not installed, roads were not accepted, and a storm drain issue was not addressed. The streets require repairs in order to be properly maintained.
In answer to a question from board member Jacinda Barbehenn, Planning Director Tony Fields explained that such large subdivisions are usually accepted in phases in order to avoid the bond coming up short.
He added that in most cases regular updates would be provided and assessments would be made to determine the status of a project and if any extensions are needed. He confirmed that there has been no extension issued and no assessment of the bond has been made since 1997.
He recommended reviewing the project with the town’s engineers to determine if the project is in default. Manugian said that he recognized that the town may be committed to accepting the roads.
Board member Amy Lloyd declared that the Planning Board must work towards establishing policies that will prevent a similar situation from arising in the future. She also asked what the builder’s explanation was as to why no work has been done in over two years.
Fields reported that the applicant blamed the lack of progress on communication failures. Lloyd proposed that the applicant be told that if efforts to meet the bond are not made the matter will be brought to Town Counsel.
Member Todd Crowley asked if Bedford can legally accept the roads if they are not up to standard and then use state funding to repair them. Fields confirmed that Crowley’s approach would be possible, but Manugian stressed that it is just one of several possibilities that are being considered.
Planning Board member Chris Gittins asked if the town could place a lien on the unused lots in order to bring the roads back to acceptable standards. Fields said that he believed that Town Counsel was reviewing this possibility. Gittins and Lloyd both emphasized the need to hold the applicant to stringent standards in order to prevent the matter from remaining unattended.
Resident Sara Jansen praised the board’s ideas and the efforts of the DPW. She explained that the failure to maintain the roads has become a safety hazard and has caused several children to be injured.