Regulatory Path Finally Clear for Railroad Avenue Project

November 28, 2023
Here is a rendering of what the proposed mixed-use project on Railroad Avenue would look like. HDS Architecture

Now that his regulatory path is clear, the developer of a proposed three-story mixed-use complex on Railroad Avenue said Monday he will “proceed with caution as construction costs and rates have changed since we started.”

Matt Dillon said he and his wife Liz are “thrilled that we got all of our approvals,” and “still intend to create a place that the whole community can enjoy.”

The Bedford Select Board last week signed off on the removal of four town-owned trees near the northwest corner of South Road and Railroad Avenue that were likely to be damaged during construction.

Under terms of the town tree policy, the four trees will be replaced. Dillon said plans call for 18 new trees around the property, including some spruces that he expects will help compensate for lost screening.

The 9,500-square-foot proposal features 18 apartments on the second and third floors, and two first-floor storefronts and 17 parking spaces on the ground floor. The plans also include a small retail building on the west side of the lot, much of which is now used for overflow school bus storage.

It has been almost three months since the Planning Board approved the special permit required under the mixed-use zoning overlay.

The Select Board agenda item resulted from several objections raised at a Sept. 12 hearing conducted by the town tree warden. The Select Board is the appellate body for objections to changes in public trees.

But when the issue came before the Select Board last week, only Robert Dorer raised any concerns, and his point was there needs to be a better understanding of the impact of zero setbacks in mixed-use districts on adjacent town trees.

“I know there were issues that the development would damage the roots of the trees,” said Select Board member Shawn Hanegan. 

“It was a discussion point among staff during the review of the special permit,” said Public Works Director David Manugian. There are going to be impacts during excavation on when it involves the public right-of-way, he continued. 

Attorney Pamela Brown, representing the Dillons, said the current trees are tall and provide green space.” But she added that one is growing at an angle, a second was compromised to make space for wires, and all are interspersed with invasive growth. “I think the replanting will be much more attractive.”

The small public space at the corner should be a “welcoming area,” said board member Margot Fleischman. Brown said the owners intend to landscape and maintain the space. She noted that she has spoken with Bedford Garden Club members who support replacing the mature trees. The Garden Club tends one of its floral displays at the site.

Select Board member Emily Mitchell said she has heard objections about losing the screening the mature trees provide, particularly when the foliage is full. She asked about whether invasives are protected; Manugian said they are not and should be removed.

Asked about the three-year limit on replacing the new trees, Manugian replied that if planting is done early in the project, the new trees’ survival will be evident well before that deadline.

The Select Board also accepted easements that will allow the town to construct a sidewalk along the building on the north side of Railroad Avenue and mark some on-street parking.

“We are so grateful and appreciative for all of the input and review” from town departments and boards, Dillon said Monday.

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Patty Dahlgren
December 4, 2023 10:07 pm

is 17 parking spaces for 18 apartments + two stores enough?

Tom D
November 28, 2023 8:10 pm

Why should the town pay for a new sidewalk adjacent to a brand new property? Shouldn’t that be part of the deal (curb cuts, etc)???

Ted T. Martin
November 29, 2023 4:46 pm
Reply to  Tom D

No!

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