The Planning Board will present its proposal for compliance with a new state law designed to facilitate multi-unit housing at a statutory public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
The hearing, like all Planning Board meetings, will be virtual. The link to connect on Zoom is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84884526639?pwd=d0kwZnZIaXZNYkViK2ZET1NoMTc1UT09
(password 448253). The proceedings will also be broadcast on Bedford Community Television.
Tuesday’s public hearing is the latest milestone in the board’s effort to amend the zoning bylaw so it complies with a recent state law. The amendments comprise a new multifamily housing overlay district, which will form part of the zoning map, as well as changes to the text of the bylaw.
Planning Board members Chris Gittins, chair Jacinda Barbehenn, Todd Crowley, Steve Hagan, and Amy Lloyd have met numerous times over the past several months, sometimes for as long as four hours in a session, experimenting with different combinations before settling on two geographic areas that meet the law’s standards. They also worked through a range of dimensional criteria for the overlay district – setback dimensions, height limits, and parking requirements, among them.
The town is required to designate at least 50 acres where multi-unit housing can be built by right, at a minimum density of 15 units per acre with no age restrictions. No housing has to be built; the proposal is a zoning amendment.
Deadline for compliance is Dec. 31. The Planning Board wants the changes to be approved at annual town meeting in March.
Gittins said the format of the public meetings will not differ from the pattern at recent working sessions: public comment (up to three minutes per person), then presentation of the proposed overlay districts and accompanying zoning parameters followed by board members’ discussion, and another round of public comment, if time permits.
The two areas designated for compliance with the multi-unit housing requirement are:
- The Loomis Street-Railroad Avenue corridor between The Great Road and Commercial Avenue, including all of that street and some of the commercial lots on South Road. The boundaries also include 199 and 200 The Great Road and exclude some individual properties, such as Depot Park and the historic building housing the Bikeway Source.
- An area the board calls Shawsheen West, comprising Roberts Drive, two lots on The Great Road between Roberts and the Great Road Shopping Center, and Alfred Circle, which is contiguous but across Elm Brook.
Details are available on the board’s web page at https://www.bedfordma.gov/836/MBTA-Communities-Multifamily-Zoning-Requ.