By Mike Rosenberg and Dorothy Bergin
Brian DeVellis has modified his plans for a large mixed housing development on Carlisle Road in response to recommendations from the Bedford Select Board addressing concerns expressed at public meetings.
The two most significant revisions are:
- Relocation and expansion of a 36-apartment senior housing complex to a separate parcel to the east, closer to the junction of Carlisle and North roads
- Conversion of a building containing 51 rental apartments to a 42-unit condominium structure with 100 percent ownership
The original site was earmarked for 139 single-family, duplex, triplex, townhouse, and apartment units. That number has been reduced to 120. The location is 35 acres – most of them wetlands – on the north side of Carlisle Road, a little east and across the street from the compost center.
DeVellis, the land-use attorney and landscape architect who grew up in Bedford and built the Edge Sports Center and some residential streets, first announced the concept in the summer of 2021.
The Select Board and the Housing Partnership have already endorsed the proposal, as required by state law designating it a Local Initiative Project (LIP). That process allows the project to bypass zoning density requirements if at least 25 percent of the units meet the state definition of affordable housing.
The latest plan calls for 31 affordable units on the original site and an additional 13 on the eastern parcel.
In a memo to both boards accompanying a summary of the revisions, DeVellis wrote that although the changes “could be considered a modification to respond to your comments, there is also enough change here to warrant review and reconfirmation of the revision by both of your respective boards.”
The Housing Partnership – after two hours of discussion — gave unanimous approval to the modified plan at a meeting Tuesday, although the group was not unified about individual details.
If the Select Board also reconfirms at its meeting next Monday, DeVellis will forward the proposal to the state Department of Housing and Community Development, which validates physical and financial feasibility. The final stop – and the one involving the most time and detail – is the Zoning Board of Appeals for a comprehensive permit.
At the May 23 Select Board meeting, members voted to support the LIP but asked DeVellis to try to replace the apartment building with townhouses or duplexes; reduce the number of rental units; and implement restrictions that if allowable would guarantee that the 36-unit apartment building would be exclusively for senior citizens.
The relocated apartment building revives development plans for that 14-acre parcel. DeVellis’s original idea was to build “co-housing” on that site, a concept similar to college dormitory suites, with common living and cooking space and separate bedrooms. That idea was put on hold after state officials indicated it was not an eligible consideration as affordable housing under the LIP.
In his memo to the boards, DeVellis said the relocation is intended “to afford greater access to the North Road business district.”
The revised plans also add a single-family house, three triplexes, and 16 free-standing townhouses.
None of the units on the larger parcel are currently designated as rental. However, when members of the Housing Partnership asked DeVellis if he would support some rental units, he replied that he could do 10-to-20 percent rentals across all types of the housing stock. The group favored 20 percent by a 3-2 vote, with Chair Christina Wilgren expressing displeasure at the decrease in ownership units.
Under the lottery system for assigning affordable housing units, the town can request up to 70 percent local preference for purchase and rental options. But the partnership voted 3-1 in opposition to that concept. However, members agreed there is much more upon which to deliberate depending on how the final plan is designed.
Partnership members supported designing and marketing the apartments on the new, smaller site so that they would be attractive to seniors. But Wilgren was the only one who favored a 55-year-old minimum age restriction for that building. Members asked if it is legal to restrict renters in the 51-unit building.
Hanegan thanked DeVellis for making the changes “that made a lot of people happy.” Some neighbors were particularly distressed by the three-story multifamily buildings.
A contribution by the developer to help finance improvements that would mitigate traffic congestion at the junction of The Great, North, and Concord Roads (Willson Park) was also a recommendation of the Select Board.