Great Road Business Zoning: Articles 8, 9, and 10

Submitted by the Bedford Planning Board

In 2016, recognizing that commercial development patterns along the Great Road no longer reflect the quality and character that we want for our town, the citizens of Bedford at Town Meeting voted to enable the Planning Board to conduct a comprehensive review, analysis, and reconstruction of our outdated, 1970’s-era business zoning. With the aide of expert consultants, we spent the last year and a half working on this endeavor and are now proposing a new set of zoning bylaws that is sensitive to the distinctive personality of The Great Road corridor and our town. To ensure that the proposed zoning reflected the desires of the public, two workshops, three public hearings, and numerous open Planning Board meetings were held, and public feedback has been heavily incorporated. The proposed by-laws, now complete will be presented at next week’s Annual Town Meeting (starting March 26th).

Highlights of the proposed zoning include specific redevelopment regulations that take into consideration the distinct character and purposes of different parts of the Great Road. Four sub-districts have been defined: Shawsheen, Marketplace, Town Center and North Road. The exact extent of each district is available in map form on the town’s website. Residential areas in between districts are not subject to the new zoning.

Across all four districts, great care and consideration were taken to strengthen the Town’s ability to guide any new development, placing significant emphasis on form and design. The proposed zoning has specific building regulations that pre-scribe architectural treatments such as percent of window coverage, wall finishes that provide varied textures, lighting fixtures, and artwork for any wall that is visible from a public way. So, unlike the current bylaw, the proposed zoning would not allow long expanses of blank walls. The proposed zoning also emphasizes the pedestrian experience, calling for such features as wider sidewalks that are further setback from the road by meaningful landscaping and well designed, sized, and located pedestrian gathering and resting spaces.

In an effort to provide a more diverse housing stock and to offer more opportunities for Bedford residents to downsize in town, all four districts encourage mixed-used redevelopment (residential over retail), with larger scale projects called for in the Shawsheen district. As written, the new zoning would ensure for universal design and has requirements for elevator access.

For more information on the proposed bylaws, please visit the Town of Bedford Planning Board webpage (https://www.bedfordma.gov/planning). There you will find a link to the proposed new zoning as well as a number of other documents that explain and illustrate the proposed zoning. The Planning Board respectfully asks for your support at Town Meeting.

And, there’s a video ~ Great Road Zoning Explained


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