Letter to the Editor: Concern over Wetlands Calculation Change in Proposed MBTA Multifamily Zoning Article

Submitted by Nicholas Howard 

These are just four examples of what the Planning Board approved when they amended their proposal after closing the public hearing on the MBTA Multifamily Zoning:

  • Up to 88 units on 2.5 acres (35 units/ac density) against Elm Brook across from the end of the bike path. Developer owned, ready to build. Increases to 105 (42 units/ac) if abutting wetlands are acquired.
  • Up to 45 units on .7 acres (64 units/ac density) on Great Road, 300 feet from the Elm Brook bridge. Owner expressly requested inclusion in this zoning.
  • Up to 25 units on .6 acres (42 units/ac density) on Great Road, next to the Elm Brook bridge. 
  • Up to 82 units on 2.75 acres (30 units/ac density) on Great Road at Loomis.

Before that point, their language for “dwelling units/acre” included the phrase “Wetlands and their 25 foot no-build buffers are excluded for this calculation.”  This is a common way to calculate density as it reflects what is permitted to be built on the developable portion of a parcel and limits overly dense developments right up against wetlands.

I followed this process closely, attending the vast majority of Planning Board meetings and public forums. I shared my concern about wetland calculations throughout. Yet, what the Planning Board had actually approved, including this phrase, only permitted approximately 650 units of the required 750 (the model said 816 as it defined density based on total acreage).  Having read the actual warrant article, this phrase was removed—outside of a Planning Board meeting and without opportunity for public comment.

This is not the kind of development that was presented to the public when the Planning Board was working with the public to devise their proposal—even though their model said 135 Great Road could build 88 units, it was understood that the wetlands on that property would hold the density there at 20 units per acre after the wetlands were taken into account.

This is not the kind of development that is appropriate for our town.

While I agree that we must comply with the State law, this is not the right way, and is beyond what can be fixed by amendment at Town Meeting. 

I therefor urge you to vote no on articles 11 and 12; tell the Planning Board to do better for our town.

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The opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are those of the writer, not The Bedford Citizen.

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