Abutters and several residents from other neighborhoods in Bedford turned out for the Housing Partnership meeting on January 22. They came to learn more about the proposed redevelopment of the property at 330 South Road, at the intersection of Summer Street and South Road.
Attorney Pam Brown, representing owner/developer Steve Soillis, had earlier presented a preliminary concept plan to the HP, as reported in The Citizen on December 4, 2019. https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2019/12/new-life-for-an-older-property-housing-partnership-reviews-plans-for-330-south-road/.
Existing buildings on the two-acre property would be converted into a total of 24 rental units, of varying sizes. One new building would be constructed but the old barns (there are two) and an existing house would be preserved and renovated. This is proposed as a Local Initiative Project, or LIP, and would provide for 25% of the units (6) as affordable.
In the intervening weeks, as abutters became aware of the proposed project, many have publicly expressed concerns about the impact on traffic of the proposed development.
Although no quorum was present at the Partnership meeting on Wednesday night, and no formal votes were taken, Chair Christina Wilgren invited the 10 attendees to voice their opinions-which they did, with varying degrees of concern. Given the volume of traffic at key times of day at the critical Summer Street/South Road juncture, this was the major worry of the immediate neighbors and of one resident on Fayette Road, at the rear of the property. South Road residents Barbara and Sydney Anderson mentioned there are too many accidents at the intersection already. Fayette Road residents Anne and Ed Meffan concurred on the traffic issue. Anderson also had concerns about the impact of increased housing on infrastructure – water and sewer. A Robinson Road resident expressed worries that an increase in population would put an added burden on Bedford’s already crowded schools; several others echoed this fear.
Asked if she had done a traffic-impact study, Attorney Brown’s answer was no but she said she would conduct a traffic assessment. She said she did not expect there would be significantly more vehicles; there are commercial vehicles currently going in and out of the property. She acknowledged it is a bad intersection.
Planning Board to Consider Project at January 28 meeting
Liz Rust, Regional Housing Services Organization (RHSO), the agency that provides support to housing agencies in Bedford and area towns, assured residents that there would be many opportunities for public comment on the housing proposal. She urged residents to attend the Planning Board meeting on January 28, when Attorney Brown will present the proposal to that board.
Further, Brown and the developer must still appear before the Selectmen and ultimately before the Zoning Board of Appeals, which issues the final permit for a development such as this. As Rust emphasized, there will be many opportunities for the public to comment about the project.
In response to some attendees who complained they had trouble learning about upcoming housing developments, Economic Development Director Alyssa Sandoval, who sits on the Housing Partnership as a representative of the Town Manager, suggested that a good way to keep current on projects was to visit the Town’s web site and to check the agendas of relevant boards such as Planning, Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation, etc., depending on your interests. Residents can sign up for automatic email notices from the various boards.
Residents are invited to share their concerns directly through letters to the editor (click this link to read The Citizen’s letters policy)
And, The Bedford Citizen encourages “citizen reporters,” of which this writer is one, to attend as many committee meetings as possible to fulfill our mission of working toward an informed citizenry.