FinCom Reviews Zoning By-Law Amendments, Town Hall Bonding Article for Nov 6 Town Meeting

By Bob Dorer

FinanceCommitteeAt their October 2 meeting the Finance Committee voted to support the Town Hall Building Systems Replacement – Bonding Authorization Article at the upcoming Special Town Meeting (scheduled to start on Thursday, November 6 at 7:30 pm at the Bedford High School Auditorium).

In reviewing other town meeting articles, the Committee heard from Planning Director Glenn Garber and Assistant Planner Catherine Perry on two zoning by-law amendment articles sponsored by the Planning Board: Industrial Mixed Use and Landscaping, Tree Protection and Visual Screening in Cluster and Planned Residential Developments.   Garber explained that the recommended changes to the Industrial Mixed Use zoning bylaw reflect the experience of the Planning Board with the bylaw since it was approved in 2002.   Two successful projects, the Flatbread, Bamboo, Melting Pot, and Panera restaurant area and the Bedford Business Park on Crosby Drive, have been permitted under this bylaw.  The third permitted project, and the only one with a residential component, the Village at Taylor Pond, has been more problematic relative to its planned retail component.   Garber noted the proposed changes remove the residential component option and add an updated list of allowable uses and more flexibility for permitting under the bylaw.  Perry then reviewed the proposed changes to the landscaping related article, focusing on the intent to remove unintended consequences of the existing bylaw language and adding flexibility to its application.   The Finance Committee voted unanimously to support both articles.

The Committee then heard an update from Catherine Cordes, Chair of the Community Preservation Committee (CPC).   Cordes presented a brief history and current status of the CPC and its funded projects, including the CPC commitment to support 50 percent of the costs for the Town Hall Building System Replacement project.   Later in the evening the Finance Committee voted to endorse continuing the property tax surcharge at 3 percent.  Bedford was the first community to approve a surcharge at the 2001 annual town meeting and has voted annually to maintain the rate at 3 percent.    Under this surcharge, the town has raised over $13 million and the Commonwealth has provided Bedford over $8 million in matching funds since 2002.

Finally, the Committee reviewed the advanced life support services article. After a brief discussion on the timing of the article and potential schedule and cost impacts, the Committee congratulated Fire Chief Grunes and his team on the quality of their presentation and initiative and voted to unanimously endorse the article.

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