By Caroline Fedele, Margot Fleischman, Bill Moonan, Ed Pierce and Mike Rosenberg
A couple of large hangars and related buildings have been part of the landscape on the Bedford side of the Hanscom Field runway for about half a century. But rapidly-moving state and federal decisions over the past few weeks have suddenly exposed that 16-acre site to industrial development – with the potential to compromise the quality of life in Bedford residential neighborhoods for generations.
That’s why the selectmen hope you will join us at a special town meeting and vote to rezone the land from industrial to residential, thus precluding the threat of an undesirable project. The selectmen also hope voters will authorize municipal acquisition of the site if such an opportunity emerges that is favorable to the town.
Town meeting is planned for Monday, July 30, starting at 7:30 p.m. in Bedford High School’s Joseph Buckley Auditorium. (We need a quorum of 100 registered voters to proceed.)
The hangars are owned by the U.S. Navy and the 16 acres are on federal property that has been zoned industrial by default. During the heyday of Raytheon’s Missile Systems Division operations in Bedford, the complex was active day and sometimes night, but it has been dormant since the early 1990s.
Since 2011, the Massachusetts Port Authority has been negotiating with the Navy for acquisition of the facility, planning to demolish the hangars and build new ones. Those talks ended abruptly less than three months ago, and the federal government announced that the site would be sold at auction. The town successfully enjoined the start of the bidding for two months, providing time to examine options and propose steps to pre-emptively deter an industrial development.
A two-thirds town meeting vote is required to approve a zoning change. The selectmen hope you will take a couple of hours out of your summer schedule to support efforts to sustain the integrity of our neighborhoods and perhaps open the door to new options for municipal land.