Planning Board Moves the Ball Forward with Draft ADU Bylaw

By Ben Oleksinski

The Bedford Planning Board discussed a revised draft of proposed zoning bylaw amendments at their June 11 meeting, further evaluating the standards by which accessory dwelling units would be regulated.

The main bylaw change under consideration allows accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to be built within a house lot, further expanding options for homeowners. The draft, as reviewed on Tuesday, reflected what the Board interpreted from the public hearing weeks earlier, as well as their own suggestions. The end goal is to move forward a fairly practical bylaw from both viewpoints.

As defined by the bylaw draft, an ADU is a “second dwelling unit located either within a structure con­structed as a detached one family dwelling,” being “subordinate in size to the principal dwelling unit and separated from it, in a manner that maintains the appearance of the structure as a one family unit.”

ADUs have the potential to alter or extend the use of a home for Bedford residents. Their primary benefit is increased flexibility at all stages, giving homeowners more financial and family configuration options. The Board noted how such units could be used to “serve people who, more often than not, go unserved” by creating new options in single-family neighborhoods.

Further, proponents say the units could help the Town meet its housing needs without detracting from its historic development pattern.

With two members absent, the conversation amongst the Board consisted of specific evaluation criteria: organizational edits, consistency of references, etc. A key issue was differentiating between “two family” and “accessory” dwelling units. Other technical points, such as owner occupancy, could be addressed with code.

The consensus of the Board was to address straightforward edits to the draft. Anything controversial that warranted discussion would be defined and settled later.

The zoning bylaw is still several steps from finalization. Another public hearing is currently being planned, with details to be announced.

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