Finance Committee Discusses Lane School Parking Lot, Zoning Bylaws, and Public Works

By Lizzie Seibert

At its meeting on March 16, the Finance Committee deferred its recommendation decision on the Lane School parking lot expansion, after Superintendent Jon Sills presented an explanation of the project. Sills explained that the project, which would cost $300,000, is aimed at expanding parking for a growing staff, visitors to Lane, parents, and volunteers, that the current parking cannot accommodate. He hopes the project will expedite pick up and drop off and reduce late arrivals at the school, which Sills said is a problem. The project will also grow the school’s bus loop to accommodate 4-5 additional buses. The project additionally incorporates an attachment to the area’s bike trail.

Sills explained that while the project could cost $300,000–$170,000 of this would come from the DPW’s planned budget of repaving the school. Then $200,000 could come from Lane’s Energy Management System (EMS) grant; Sills already planned to use for this use. Sills maintained that he was really asking for $100,000 from Bedford’s Capital Expenditures budget.

The Finance Committee expressed reservations towards this project, explaining that they were not sure if the parking lot plan was worth the money and that the School Department could use its contingency budget for the parking lot. Sills replied that he planned to use the contingency budget, but was unsure how much would be left in it for the project. “I can publicly state,” said Sills, “That if we get the $100,000 from capital and don’t use it, it will be rescinded.”  The Finance Committee remained unsure on how to proceed with this project and chose to continue deferring its recommendation.

Addressing other articles on the warrant, the Finance Committee voted to recommend approval of articles at Annual Town Meeting that would increase the Department of Public Works (DPW) fleet of small and large vehicles. The DPW annually assesses its vehicles and whether or not they should be replaced by their age, mileage, and condition. The DPW stated that for the fiscal year 2018, it saw 21 vehicles that on paper should be replaced, but after a review, it recommended to replace 8 of them: 2 large dump trucks (for $473,814) and 6 other vehicles with equipment (for $274,000 total). See articles 18-04 and 18-36

The Finance Committee also voted to recommend approval of four articles that will change the Zoning Bylaws. Article 11 outlines a basic zoning procedure if someone wishes to establish a Registered Marijuana Dispensary in Bedford. This is the first law that Bedford will have on marijuana dispensaries, and it states that a store cannot be established within 500 feet of a place where children regularly congregate and limits the permitted zoning to Industrial C (See:

Article 12 establishes the zoning laws for building fences on personal property. Currently, to build a fence over 6feet tall, a resident would need to acquire a building permit. The bylaw change establishes a special $50 permit for residents to build a fence higher than 6 feet that is less expensive than acquiring a building permit. Article 13 is an update to clarify Bedford’s zoning map.Article 14 allows residents whose homes are destroyed by a natural disaster to erect a trailer and temporary dwelling for one year on their property while their home is being rebuilt.

The Finance Committee also voted to recommend approval of Capital articles 18-30 and 18-25, which would replace the doors on the fire department building and the roof of the Springs Brook Park boathouse, respectively. The fire department doors will cost $25,000 and the asphalt shingle roof will cost $27,632.

To cast your own vote on these articles, attend Bedford’s annual town meeting on March 27.

Correction on March 22, 2017: The paving project in the story affects Lane School, not the Davis School as noted when the story was first posted on March 21, 2016

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Holly Bloomfield
Holly Bloomfield
5 years ago

As an abutter to the Lane School, I can assure you that space is needed for vehicle access and parking. However, the current plan is unlikely to meet future needs.

The Lane School was first established in the 1950’s as a neighborhood school. Since then it has evolved into a school for the entire town’s 3rd through 5th grade population. If the town intends to keep these grades at this school as attendance increases, future planning for access is needed now.

While I applaud Superintendent Sills in his effort to raise funds for this plan, the problem does not belong with the schools. I see it is a town problem. The DPW should create a plan that includes meeting current zoning regulations for parking. Future parking expansion would require moving the current playground, surely not a popular solution. But a plan that only meets today’s need is short-sighted, expensive and does not add much to the current configuration.

In the past twenty years, I have witnessed three renovations to this school. Based on history, I would bet another is planned in 5-7 years. The Lane School is a wonderful facility with an amazing staff doing a fantastic job of educating our children. The whole town should be proud of what is happening there. By the same token, everyone should be able to access the school without the current frustration it presents.

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