Planning Board Re-Writes Proposed Zoning Bylaw; Public Hearing on Section 21 Set for January 23

By Dot Bergin

At its January 16 meeting, the Planning Board reviewed line by line Section 21 of the proposed Zoning Bylaws-Military Housing Reuse Overlay District- which went down to defeat at the November Special Town Meeting. The Board agreed unanimously to make the bylaw “site-specific,” applicable only to the former Coast Guard property now known as Pine Hill Crossing Condominiums. References to the Military Overlay District will be removed from the article and it will be re-titled before presentation at the March Annual Town Meeting.

In revising Section 21, the Board has had considerable input from Fletcher Road resident Lee Vorderer, a Bedford citizen with expertise in housing issues.  Her professional background includes years of developing programs designed to create awareness of the need for accessibility in home design. Vorderer, who raised questions at the November Special Town Meeting as to whether any units at the Pine Hill property redevelopment included accessible features, has been working closely with the Planning Board in revising Section 21.  Her suggestions have been incorporated into the proposed bylaw, which is now in the process of final revision.

Vorderer has extensive knowledge and experience in dealing with the needs of the population with physical disabilities. She told The Citizen that when she read the original version of Section 21, she was “disappointed” that accessible features were largely overlooked. This prompted her to take a strong stand against the proposed bylaw at the Special Town Meeting. Translating her disappointment into action, Vorderer has attended meetings of both the Municipal Affordable Housing Trust and the Planning Board in the weeks since the special TM, to offer her knowledge to those boards in revising the bylaw.  She says her views have been received “respectfully” by the Planning Board and she is encouraged about the re-write of the proposed Bylaw.  Vorderer mentioned that the developer of Pine Hill, TR Advisors, has also been open to her comments.

Richard Daugherty, Elm Street, has been another frequent attendee at Planning Board meetings on the Section 21 revision. Although Daugherty’s primary interest has been in affordable housing for the elderly, (and the lack thereof in Bedford), which is not part of the proposed bylaw, he too has contributed ideas on accessibility.

On January 23, the Planning Board will hold a public hearing on Section 21. Residents are encouraged to attend and make their views known.  As chair Shawn Hanegan reminds readers, “the time to speak out and to become informed on the proposed zoning bylaw is now, before the final draft of the article goes into the Warrant.”

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