Developer Hopes to Break Ground on Carlisle Road Housing in a Year

March 7, 2024
Rendering the proposed development on Carlisle Road from slides of the March 5 community presentation available at https://www.devellis.net/

Brian DeVellis said Tuesday he hopes work on the foundations of his proposed mixed housing development planned for two parcels on the north side of Carlisle Road will be underway in about a year.

The proposal meets the criteria of a Local Initiative Project (LIP), which allows it to bypass zoning density requirements as long as at least 25 percent of the units meet the state definition of affordable. 

The plan has been endorsed by the Bedford Select Board, as required, and the larger component has been cleared by the state Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities through a project eligibility letter.

The Zoning Board of Appeals will make the final determination, and DeVellis said he will file for a hearing within the next month. The board has 180 days to rule on a comprehensive permit, DeVellis said, but if more time is needed, he will agree to an extension.

Map the proposed development areas on Carlisle Road from slides of the March 5 community presentation available at https://www.devellis.net/

DeVellis outlined the timetable during a brief public meeting on Tuesday, the latest of several he has sponsored on the project. He recognized many of the 15 or so faces attending his presentation in Town Hall, several of them neighbors of the Carlisle Road site. 

The developer said his proposal, which he introduced in the summer of 2021, is a response to town studies indicating a need for “missing middle” housing, which he described as anything between a single-family house and a high-rise apartment building. 

Plans call for 120 units on 35 acres – most of them wetlands – about a half-mile west of the split of Routes 4 and 225. The current iteration is for 10 single-family houses along Carlisle Road with two or three bedrooms and a garage; 16 duplexes with one and two bedrooms; three triplexes with two stories and a loft; 16 town houses (similar to those in the Village of Bedford Woods on Albion Road); and a three-story building with 42 rental apartments. Thirty units will be affordable, scattered through the housing types. 

One version of the layout of the West Site Plan of the proposed development areas on Carlisle Road from slides of the March 5 community presentation available at https://www.devellis.net/

As part of the same overall proposal, DeVellis plans a three-story 51-unit apartment building for residents at least age 55 on 14 acres behind the Northside convenience store. That segment is awaiting the state eligibility letter.

DeVellis explained that the state letter confirms that the 35-acre site is “a good fit, and meets the needs of the commonwealth and the community,” and is financially feasible.

The Board of Appeals will begin “a public process, and we’ll do this all over again,” DeVellis told the gathering.

Displaying a diagram of the housing plan, featuring a loop road and a connector road that form a “village green,” DeVellis said “a lot of these plans are conceptual, but largely this is it.” There will be two curb cuts off the street, he said; driveways will connect to the interior roads.

The developer answered several questions, many from familiar neighbors with whom he sometimes bantered: 

  • He said some residents approached surveyors on the land asking about hazardous waste. “Theres is no hazardous waste on the site,” he said. “There’s a whole bunch of stuff that would be found in a landscape contractor’s yard.” 
  • The backs of the single-family houses will face Carlisle Road, buffered by a three-foot grass strip, the sidewalk, and another 32 feet of back yards, along with fencing and landscaping. One resident was dismayed by the prospect of visible yards; DeVellis said there will be rules enforced by a condominium association.
  • A traffic study is underway, with “post-Covid traffic counts.” The study will take into account possible improvements to intersections at North and Carlisle as well as Willson Park, DeVellis said.
  • Grading and drainage planning has begun, and fire hydrant flow, pump station, and topographic studies have been completed, he reported. “This town is going to request every study you can think of, and we will happily do that because that’s what it’s going to take to get approved.”
  • On-site water mitigation is planned through a series of retention basins, swales, water gardens, DeVellis said, all meeting state Department of Environmental Protection standards. “We are not allowed to send any more water off the site than goes off now,” he told two neighbors from the North Road side of the parcel. “If you’ve got water in your basement now this isn’t going to make it worse. But we will work with you.”

DeVellis had several exchanges with longtime Carlisle Road resident Tom Barnett, the most vocal opponent of the magnitude of the project since its inception. 

The apartment building is “going to be awful there,” said Barnett, who lives across the street. He said the developer refuses to compromise. “You were the one who suggested we move one of the apartment buildings,” and it ended up farther east, the developer said. 

“The state says this is a reasonable concept for this site,” DeVellis said. “No one is in this to ram this down your throats.” He said he could have simply built a row of large single-family houses along Carlisle Road two years ago. “You would have been happy,” he told Barnett, but the town’s needs would not be addressed.

Barnett asked about the green belt envisioned, and DeVellis replied that work has not begun on a landscaping plan, but the neighbor should share his ideas “and that’s what we will incorporate.”

DeVellis called it a “legacy project,” designed to sustain the experiences and values he found growing up in Bedford. The housing variety allows people to “age in place,” DeVellis said, acknowledging that the senior units are down the street. “The goal is for people to stay in town.”

“The people who are going to come in and buy a $2 million house – you’re not going to see them,” DeVellis said. “You want people who get to know each other. These are the kinds of communities this town needs.”

Someone asked who will own the apartment building. “The plan right now is we are developing this site, we are going to own this site,” DeVellis replied. “This isn’t me selling to Pulte tomorrow.” The project is under the name Carlisle Road Bedford LLC.

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