Submitted by Jeff Cohen, Chairman of the Bedford Planning Board
The Bedford Planning Board reminds residents that the new Comprehensive Plan is available for public viewing on the Town’s website (www.bedfordma.gov), with hard copies available at the Public Library and the Senior Center.
The Planning Board encourages residents to read the Plan and submit written comments to the Planning Department. All written comments received will be included in an Appendix to the document. Comments may be mailed, emailed, or submitted through the Planning Department’s Facebook page.
The deadline for submitting comments is January 17, 2014 so that they can be compiled for discussion at two Planning Board public meetings to be held on January 28 and February 11, 2014.
The Planning Board expects to vote to adopt the Plan at their February 25 meeting. If residents wish to expedite their read through the 170-page +/- document, they may wish to focus on the Executive Summary; the Long Range Vision for Bedford; the Visions and Goals for each core element; and the Action Plan chapter.
A Comprehensive Plan is the result of a periodic self-evaluation by a community where stakeholders examine nearly every aspect of local life, documenting where their Town is now, where they want it to go in the next 10- to 20-years, and how to work toward that desired future. In so doing, they seek to translate the Town’s values into action. Bedford adopted its last Comprehensive Plan in 2002. The Planning Board committed to creating a new one at Annual Town Meeting in 2011.
This document represents the culmination of a 2½-years effort involving contributions from numerous boards, committees, Town departments, private groups, businesses, citizens at large, and local institutions. The Plan is organized around six topical elements: Land Use; Natural and Cultural Resources; Economic Development; Transportation; Housing Needs; and Services & Facilities (which also includes Recreation and Energy). Each element, or chapter, begins with a Snapshot of that topic, as well as maps portraying changes that have occurred in Bedford since the last Plan. Each element also outlines a Vision for the future, summarizes and explores the Issues that test that Vision, proposes overall Goals for fulfilling the Vision, and suggests more specific Strategies for moving forward. Each element also includes an Action Plan: a slate of initiatives and tools to implement the Plan. Each action item suggests which boards, committees, departments, and private groups could collaborate to pursue each initiative, and a timeline for doing so. The guidance offered here is a product of an intensive participatory process.
A Comprehensive Plan is not a binding law, nor is it a substitute for the more detailed plans that will be necessary in the coming years to address the issues that have been identified. There will be many opportunities for residents and other stakeholders to be involved in enacting those detailed plans.
Finally, the Planning Board would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the process of developing this new Plan, including Town departments and committees, citizens at-large and the ad hoc advisory committee members. Unlike most communities that hire consultants to write their Plans, Bedford’s Plan was written almost entirely in-house with some ancillary assistance early in the process by a hired consultant; therefore, I’d also like to personally recognize the Town’s Planning Department staff for their exemplary performance: Planning Director, Glenn Garber; Assistant Planner, Catherine Perry; and Administrative Assistant, Cathy Silvestrone all went above and beyond the call for the past several months in pulling the final document together. Their long hours and tireless efforts have resulted in a finished product in which the Town can be most proud.
Plan elements to be covered at the meeting on January 28 will include Land Use, Economic Development, and Natural & Cultural Resources. Plan elements to be covered at the meeting on February 11 will include Transportation, Housing, and Services & Facilities (which includes Recreation). The Board looks forward to receiving your written comments and seeing you at the public meetings on January 28 and February 11. Check the Town website for meeting details and agendas.