Plank Street Developer To File for Formal Hearing

By Kim Siebert MacPhail

Plank Street in Bedford, courtesy of Google Maps

At this week’s Planning Board meeting, Vince O’Neill, manager of Walk the Plank LLC, returned for a fourth time, with new revisions to plans that would convert 100 Plank Street from a single-building commercial site to two three-story buildings with a mixture of residential, retail and office space. Board members stated they had been happy to give O’Neill feedback on his proposals at his last three informal presentations, but they now urged him to file for a formal public hearing so that town residents could provide input. Of particular concern is adding residential capacity to the Middlesex Turnpike district that would skew the balance of the mixed-use area. Additionally, the Board was uneasy with the potential of adding more school-age children to an already burgeoning school system.

In August, at his third appearance in front of the Planning Board this year, O’Neill presented a work-live concept for 4 of the total 48 units he proposed at 100 Plank Street, saying that industry trends showed that renters increasingly want one comprehensive space for both office and residence. The Board, at that time, reacted negatively to the work-live idea.

[To read the article about that meeting, see https://thebedfordcitizen.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/planning-board-reacts-negatively-to-conversion-proposal-at-100-plank-street/]

When O’Neill returned to the Board this week, the revised plans he presented eliminated the work-live units, decreased the number of two-bedroom units, and doubled the proposed retail space from 1,000 to 2,018 square feet, about one-third of the ground floor of one of the two buildings. In addition, O’Neill stated in a memo that he had added a shared office suite concept to the plan in response to the Planning Board’s expressed desire for more business incubator opportunities in Bedford.

The latest revisions yield the same tally of residential units, with an emphasis on smaller units, similar to the last iteration of the plan. Of a total of 48 units, 7 would be studios, 32 would be one-bedroom units, and 9 would be two-bedroom units.

With regard to school-age children, according to O’Neill’s calculations, a maximum of 9.38 students would result from the additional 48 apartments. O’Neill stated that he used the same formula developed by the Bedford schools to arrive at his estimate and that he had intentionally erred on the side of over-estimating. He also pointed out that there is already school bus service to Taylor Pond apartments across the street, so no new bus routes would need to be added.

Planning Board members expressed relief that the work-live unit concept had been scrapped, saying that they hadn’t seen it as a viable plan. They continued to express doubt about the wisdom of adding residential units in the Middlesex Turnpike district, though member Jeff Cohen said he’d like to see some additional vitality in area.

“As I said last time, [the plan] is getting there for me, but I’m not sold yet,” said Cohen. “It might be something that I’ll be convinced of when I hear from the public and further discussion takes place.”

Cohen’s colleague, Lisa Mustapich, agreed. “I think it’s probably time to take it to a special permit public hearing…. I don’t look acre-by-acre for every acre in a mixed use development, and I agree we need to be realistic about clustering, but I very much share the concern of turning Middlesex Turnpike from commercial/industrial/professional space into a primarily residential corridor. So I’m not sold on the idea, but I’m not saying ‘No.’ I’m just not going to give a definitive anything until we hold the special permit hearing.”

Member Shawn Hanegan agreed, saying, “I will say that I like this concept better than live-work. But like Jeff and Lisa, I’m not going to commit, because I think the public’s input is very valuable. I’m not going to say one way or the other until I’ve heard what they have to say.”


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Rachel Lewis Murphy
Rachel Lewis Murphy
9 years ago

What will be the environmental impact? What about traffic? What direct effect will it have on our school system, financially, student/classroom, etc? We need numbers, not percentages. Will it be a positive effect on our taxes?

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