Planning Board Addresses Housing Study and General Reconstruction Proposals

By Peter Manning

Bedford’s Planning Board met Tuesday, September 25 to comment on a recent Housing Strategic Study conducted by the Regional Housing Services Office (RHSO).  The remaining agenda included a public hearing on several ongoing issues, most notably the Davis Road Boardwalk and an expansion to the commercial complex at 100 Crosby Drive.

Liz Rust, RHSO Director, and Housing Consultant Jen Goldson, (JM Goldson), began with a draft report on Bedford’s housing situation.  They outlined four clear goals.

First, how can Bedford promote housing for the growing senior population?  This includes accessible downsizing options and systems to promote home modification to fit needs: support rails on stairs and showers, accessible shelving, and other features basic to this general design.

Second, in what ways can Bedford provide housing that supports and nurtures a diverse community?  How can Bedford diversify metrics such as age, race, and income while maintaining the proud, colonial atmosphere we already have.

Third, RHSO—responsible for initiating and compiling this study—stressed the necessity for environmentally sustainable initiatives in both the construction process and general living.  Again, balancing this goal with maintaining Bedford’s aesthetic is critical.

The final point stressed acts more of a culmination of the reoccurring desires than a new initiative. (Not sure what this sentence means: is it necessary?)

The Planning Board appeared to be both impressed with the outlines and goals, yet sought clarification of the findings, data, and projections the study offered.  Rust and Goldson offered highly detailed steps to achieve the outlined goals.  This was met with praise from the Planning Board.  The study also offered projections on raising housing costs-to-income ratios, making affordable housing less affordable or realistic than the name suggests.

The Planning Board suggested a fifth goal to encourage more middle-income housing.

Rust and Goldson, in closing, stressed this hearing was to field suggestions on improving the study before they present it as a final document in early November

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