Letter to the Editor: Planning Board Proposed Multifamily Zones Will Help Bedford Traffic

Submitted by Renu Bostwick

Traffic shows that we are all interconnected. Living in the center of Town for 28 years, I’ve seen cut-through commuters pile up on our streets, increasing every year. The number of NH license plates have also increased dramatically, as local housing options have become unaffordable for most.

We feel fortunate that we can walk to amenities in the center of Town and not take out the car. Our kids walked to their sports practices, allowing us to lessen congestion and do right by the children’s future climate by not adding to greenhouse gas emissions. I feel badly for parents who have to get into traffic when their kids need to get to activities in Bedford, jostling with the NH residents trying to get home. If those NH folks were our Bedford neighbors, turning off main roads to their Bedford homes, or taking the bus or cycling for their commute, you can imagine how many fewer of their cars would be clogging up the regional commute.

Such a regional traffic problem, where many people are forced to live far from their work and have to spend so much time and greenhouse gas emissions commuting everyday, can only be fixed regionally. The state law that increases options for multifamily housing near public transit is smart state policy. The Bedford Town Warrant articles that our Planning Board so thoughtfully put together, with zones near the center of Town, where more people can walk to errands and use public transit, is inclusive policy.

Thank goodness the Planning Board chose zones that provide hopeful possibilities for the future, centrally located where people don’t have to rely on cars. Thank goodness the Planning Board did not opt for zones pushing change out to Bedford extremities, which would force people into cars, making traffic congestion worse regionally. I look forward to a time when my kids might afford homes nearby and be able to lessen regional traffic by walking and biking to save all our future climate.

The Planning Board developed a great plan. Let’s not risk our taxpayer dollars on future lawsuits and lost state grants, as Milton has now already experienced, by not complying with the law. Please join me and other members of Mothers Out Front, working for a livable climate and an equitable future for all children: vote YES on Articles 11 and 12 at Town Meeting on March 25th.

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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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Tom Kenny
March 11, 2024 3:05 pm

I encourage readers to note the logic of this article. “If those NH folks were our Bedford neighbors” implies that the reason people choose to live in NH and work here in the Bedford area is that we don’t have enough affordable housing. In other words, if we add more housing they would move here – uprooting their lives and taking a 5% income hit due to the Mass income tax, to boot. As a result, we’re to believe that adding housing units will in fact lead to less traffic.

Does that make sense? Perhaps the real reason for this letter — and others in support of further adding to population density in the name of the climate — is actually the phrase “lost state grants”?

John McClain
March 11, 2024 9:17 pm
Reply to  Tom Kenny

Except people who work live in NH and work in MA still have to pay MA income taxes. Over the years I have run into a lot of people who moved from MA to NH because the housing is cheaper.

Peggy Lundgren
March 11, 2024 11:05 pm
Reply to  Tom Kenny

Also clearly it’s a huge hope that costs will roll back. I would love to see this thinking flushed out.

March 12, 2024 7:53 pm
Reply to  Peggy Lundgren

No one is making a case that housing costs overall will go down. The case being made is that Bedford and most of eastern MA have zoned almost exclusively for single-family homes for 50+ years. And permitting of new construction is so low that 76% of housing stock in MA was built before 1978. Those factors have tightly constrained the supply of housing while the demand – new residents who are filling the jobs our booming economy is adding all the time – keeps going up.

What this policy will do is create opportunities for housing other than single-family homes (SFH) to be built. The SFHs will continue to rise in price but communities like Bedford will gain apartments, condos, and other types of housing that start at a lower price because they’re smaller, don’t come with yards, etc. People won’t only have to choose between buying a $1 million SFH or renting a $3500/mo apartment … or commuting 45 minutes or more because they can’t afford either and there are no other options in Bedford.

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