DeVellis Submitting Carlisle Road Housing Plan to State Agency

July 27, 2023
Brian DeVellis presented and received feedback from the Bedford Select Board on Monday on his lastest revisions for the development of parcels of land on Carlisle Road. Image: @BedfordTv

Brian DeVellis told the Bedford Select Board on Monday he is submitting his 139-unit mixed-housing proposal for state approval, leaving several details to be decided later.

His plan for 35 acres on the north side of Carlisle Road has been approved by the Housing Partnership and Select Board, required as part of the Local Initiative Program (LIP). Under the LIP, a proposed housing development can bypass zoning density requirement if at least a quarter of the units meet the state definition of affordable. 

Now the state Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities has to sign off on the plan’s physical and financial feasibility if it is to move on.

The final LIP phase is a comprehensive permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals, when the details of the project are addressed.

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In response to suggestions that were part of the Select Board’s endorsement on June 5, DeVellis presented a revised layout Monday. The principal difference was relocation of a 36-unit apartment building for older residents to a separate 14-acre site near the beginning of Carlisle Road, with expansion to 51 units. 

He also made all of the affordable units at the original site for purchase and added two eight-unit townhouse buildings. The revised total of units on the original site was reduced to 120, but the project’s total grew to 171.

DeVellis said he felt the changes were significant enough for the board to have another look.

Only three Select Board members are deliberating on his plan because Paul Mortenson is an abutter at the back of the property and Bopha Malone is a neighbor on Carlisle Road.

The three remaining board members did not reach consensus on DeVellis’s changes with the biggest difference of opinion concerning the relocation of senior housing.

Board member Margot Fleischman said senior housing closer to stores and transportation could be beneficial. However, she noted that the expansion is so substantial that “it seems like two separate projects. Our conversation did not envision opening up another piece of property.” 

DeVellis said separation could undermine his LIP application, as revenue from the senior apartments is an important variable.

Select Board member Emily Mitchell pointed out that “one of the selling points was an intergenerational community. If we have relegated the older folks, it feels like a very different place to me.” 

DeVellis acknowledged that he was promoting the mixed housing as offering “aging in place.” Mitchell also noted that crossing Carlisle Road can be challenging for pedestrians.

Member Shawn Hanegan said separating the senior housing “integrates the seniors more into the general area.”

All three members said the revised plans eliminating rentals from the larger site are an overcorrection, and some rental opportunities among the affordable units should remain. 

“I would like to submit the application as endorsed so the state can say this site worked for something, then go back and incorporate changes and let the state know this is still a work in progress,” DeVellis explained. The submission includes comments and feedback from town boards.

DeVellis presented an updated configuration of the proposed development site on Carlisle Road. Image: @BedfordTv

The housing at the smaller parcel – not far from the rear of Northside Market and Liquors – could be townhouses rather than apartments, or presented as a separate consideration of a zoning overlay, he said.

Fleischman asked why the senior housing threshold is age 55 when 62 “seems like more of a sweet spot to me.” DeVellis said it is arbitrary; either way “the key is the school-age children that they are not going to have.”

DeVellis commented that “we want this to be a Bedford-centric project,” with applicants connected to the town getting priority for affordable units. Hanegan noted that the town has the right to restrict a large percentage of the units. Some members of the Housing Partnership disagreed with this approach.

Two residents expressed differing views on the rental inventory. Jacinda Barbehenn said units should be part of the 35-acre development, while Christina Wilgren supported purchase opportunities for people who qualify for affordable housing.

“No one project can meet every goal that we have but very often the seniors don’t get what they need,” she added. DeVellis “is trying to meet needs that we keep missing.”

Carlisle Road resident Tom Barnett continued to express concerns about the size of the development. “It is way too dense for the way Carlisle Road is set up,” he stated. 

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