By Dot Bergin
Dateline December 10, 2014
A very different type of proposal was also on the Planning Board’s December 10 agenda: a land use study of the east end of the Great Road. Director Garber and Assistant Planner Catherine Perry propose to submit a technical assistance application to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s land use division.
As outlined in the draft of the “concept scope,” presented to the Planning Board, the project would study one of Bedford’s principal retail/business areas on the eastern end of the Great Road toward the Lexington line, gathering and analyzing data on existing properties and transportation infrastructure, soliciting input from business owners, studying market conditions and other factors. As the document says, “the study area….is currently characterized by dated and undistinguished buildings, obtrusive signage, car-oriented and fragmented layouts and much vehicular conflict. The vision is to transition it to an area with more attractive and distinct local character, better conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists, smoother traffic operations, an improved environment and opportunities for new businesses.”
Garber emphasized the importance of careful data gathering and analysis, before consideration of policy or zoning changes. The Town Manager supports this proposed project and the Planning Board regards it as a priority item in their planning work program. Garber said that other town departments which will be involved in data gathering have given approval. By consensus, the Planning Board agreed that Garber should proceed with the application.
Proposals are now being accepted for potential projects to be undertaken with the 2015 allocation of District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) funds. DLTA funding helps promote regional collaboration, economic development, better land use and zoning, and environmental protection across the Commonwealth. The funds are administered each year through a competitive process managed by MAPC.
You can read more about MAPC’s 50-year history as a regional planning agency here: https://www.mapc.org/about-mapc. Bedford is in one of MACP’s eight sub-1egions, along with neighboring Concord, Lexington, Carlisle and several other communities.