Submitted by Chris Gittins:
Since first being elected in 2021, I have had the privilege to work with the other members of the Bedford Planning Board as well as staff, residents, and other town boards and committees. I am announcing my candidacy for re-election and would be honored to serve a second term.
The Planning Board is responsible for proposing new land use policies (i.e., proposing new Zoning Bylaws and amendments to existing ones), ensuring that new development follows the policies that we have in place, recommending studies of the resources and needs of the Town, and for updating Bedford’s Comprehensive Plan. Our Comprehensive Plan is “a periodic self-examination by the community of where it stands, where it wants to go, and how it plans to get there.”
During my three years on the Board, our initiatives have focused on addressing the shortage of middle-income-affordable housing identified in our most recent (2013) Comprehensive Plan. I am pleased to have played a role in these initiatives:
- Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) bylaw allowing homeowners to build a second, modest-sized living space on their property,
- Two-Family Zoning Bylaw amendment to lower the barriers to building duplex homes, and a
- Multifamily Zoning Bylaw proposal to comply with a recent state law requiring that municipalities designate an area where multifamily housing is allowed by-right.
The Board’s ADU and Two-Family initiatives were adopted by Town Meeting by wide margins in 2021 and 2023, respectively. As Chair of the Board this year, my goal is to create and present a multifamily zoning proposal to Town Meeting in 2024 that also passes by a wide margin. To that end, I have listened to input from residents and helped shape the Board’s proposal to reflect that input.
Bedford’s next Comprehensive Plan process will begin in 2024. My priorities for our next Comprehensive Plan include:
- Developing new strategies to increase Bedford’s stock of middle-income-affordable housing, including determining why our 132 acres of mixed-use space remains underutilized for housing,
- Developing strategies for reinvigorating languishing commercial spaces,
- Developing a plan for Town to acquire more land for recreational use, and
- Incorporating carbon reduction strategies in our Bylaws governing new development.
I look forward to collaborating with the public, staff, and other elected officials to develop the next, best vision for Bedford. I ask for your vote at Town Election on Saturday, March 9 and the opportunity to serve a second term on the Planning Board.