Zoning Board of Appeals Considers a Variety of Special Permits and Variances

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By Dot Bergin and Julie McCay Turner

ZBAThe Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is an arbiter of Bedford’s real estate changes, applying Special Permits and Variances in working with owners seeking to modify their properties. A variety of residential proposals recently came before the board.

During Public Hearings on March 10, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved Special Permits to two homeowners for additions  to their property, and in the case of a third homeowner the Board granted both a Special Permit and a Variance for a Hancock Street house that will be razed. After considerable discussion, the Board advised a fourth homeowner to seek a continuation of the public hearing to March 24.

In all cases seeking a Variance or Special Permit, it is the task of the ZBA to assure that changes to a home are in keeping with the intent of Bedford’s  Zoning By-Law and are not injurious to the neighborhood.

Beginning on November 1, 2015, Bedford’s Code Enforcement Department implemented a new protocol for ZBA Submittals for Teardowns/Additions on Under-sized Lots. The new protocol requires most “teardown/rebuilds” and large additions on non-conforming (under-sized lots) to go before the ZBA for a Special Permit/Finding prior to filing for a building permit.  To read the guidelines of what will or will not require review by the ZBA, see https://www.bedfordma.gov/sites/bedfordma/files/u79/memo_-_chris_laskey_-_teardowns_-_october_2015.pdf

The request for rulings on the home at 39 Hancock Street (at the corner of Anthony Road) involved both granting a Variance and issuing a Special Permit, to construct a new dwelling on a non-conforming lot.  In the discussion, the Board acknowledged the fact that the lot size presented problems,  and said they were “relieved” that the home design as presented was a 2500 square foot modified Cape which would blend well with the neighborhood, rather than a three-story home. The vote here was 4:1, with one member voting nay.

Another decision involved a Special Permit to construct two additions within side yard setbacks to an Arts and Crafts style home where the owners proposed a tasteful and appropriate design, which the Board felt was in keeping with the style of their home. The vote in favor was 5:0.

Homeowners on Sunnyfield Road received unanimous approval to construct an addition within a front yard setback and an addition totaling more than 600 square feet.  A Hartford Street resident seeking both a Variance and a Special Permit for a garage addition and an addition totaling more than 600 feet agreed to a continuation of that public hearing later in March.

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