Planning Board to Seek Residents’ Ideas on Multi-Family Housing Requirement

March 7, 2023

The Bedford Planning Board last week agreed to create and distribute a public survey to residents regarding the state’s guidelines on multi-family housing in towns served by the MBTA.

Planning Director Tony Fields proposed the survey in an effort to obtain more feedback than is generally available in a government meeting. 

He said several communities have received ample feedback from residents this way, although most of those communities are larger and more urban than Bedford. He suggested that a survey might be a better means to encourage resident engagement within a town setting. 

According to the guidelines, Bedford is designated as an “adjacent community” and is thus required to accommodate by right at least 750 housing units.

Assistant Planning Director Catherine Perry agreed that a survey would be useful, but maintained that residents have not been properly educated on the subject to make an informed opinion. 

Jacinda Barbehenn agreed with Perry that greater context would be helpful, and recommended adding that information to the survey rather than presenting it separately

Board member Amy Lloyd raised concerns that informing residents conflating with asking for their input may lead to more confusion. She suggested conducting community outreach prior to distributing the survey. 

The board agreed to continue the discussion of their plans for community outreach and drafting the survey during upcoming meetings.

According to the guidelines, “multi-family districts must comprise at least 50 acres of land with a minimum gross density of 15 units per acre subject to any further limitations imposed by relevant aspects of the state environmental code.” 

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