The Changing Face of Bedford ~ Revised: ZBA Grapples with Tear-Downs, Larger Homes on Non-Conforming Lots or The Anatomy of a Neighborhood

This article has been corrected from an earlier version. Thanks to Natasha and
Rob Woods and Colin Valentine for pointing out needed revisions.

In a marathon meeting on August 27 that lasted four and a half hours, the Zoning Board of Appeals dealt with four applications for special permits to demolish existing homes and construct larger homes on nonconforming lots.

Three of the cases were dispatched with minimal discussion:  Meaghann Galdos was granted a special permit to tear down a smaller home and rebuild a larger house at 11 Bacon Road, Peter King was approved for a teardown and rebuild at 13 Noreen Drive, and Deluca Builders received approval from the Board to demolish a home at 5 Clark Road, with the condition that a corrected plot plan will be submitted that is acceptable to the building department.

But the Board spent more than two contentious hours in the continuation of an earlier request by builder Amy Coffey to remove an uninhabitable 1950s cape at 19 Anthony road and replace it with a 3,543 square foot home in the current “farmhouse” style. The plan as presented was a revision downward from Coffey’s original 4,129 sq. ft.home design and from the second revision of 4,100 sq ft. Coffey was represented by attorney Pam Brown, who opened the discussion by pointing out the changes the developer had made to the plan, in response to earlier reactions from the neighbors and from the Board.

In the public hearing, strong opposition came from abutters and other homeowners on Anthony Road and adjoining streets. The homeowner at  21 Anthony Road said she would be heavily impacted and “had a lot to lose” if the new home were built. Her objections centered around the size and height of the home, which she said would cut off light and privacy to her sunroom.  Residents of 13 Anthony echoed these complaints. The mass and foundation size of the proposed house were issues of concern for several neighbors. Not all Anthony Road residents were opposed, however; several spoke up in favor.  ZBA Chair Todd Crowley also read letters of support for Coffey, citing the high quality of the homes she has built or renovated in Bedford.

ZBA members were divided in their opinions.  At least two board members advocated strongly for the Board to be mindful of the rights of property owners to do what they wish with their property, as long as their actions were not injurious or detrimental to the neighborhood. Other members were uneasy with the size of the home and felt that neighbors’ opinions should be given more weight.

At the end of two hours, the Board voted to recommend that the applicant request a continuation so that she-Coffey- might give the plan more thought. Coffey agreed, via attorney Brown, to return to the ZBA on September 10.

Controversy over “tear-downs replaced by mega-mansions” is not new in Bedford. To put the discussion in context, it is helpful to look at the history of Anthony Road, a street close to the center of town. Of the 17 existing homes, six are listed on the Assessor’s Database as “capes” – one built during 1925, one in 1945, three built during 1950, and one in 2016.  The latter home is considerably larger than the 1949/50 capes but is consistent in style. The other 11 homes reflect a variety of architectural styles: one is a 1930 colonial, one a 1945 ranch, and three are described as new colonials. Home values vary widely as well, with three homes appraised at more than $1 million. (Home descriptions are as listed on the Assessors Database.)

This is a dense neighborhood, as are the adjacent streets – Hunt, Wayte, Hamilton, and Brown. Homes near the center are desirable properties. As other smaller homes in the area come on the market, it is likely that the ZBA will continue to deal with the teardown, rebuild phenomenon.

To view the August 24, 2020  revision of Amy Coffey’s application, click
https://www.bedfordma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif2781/f/uploads/zba_application_-_19_anthony_road_-_updated_august_2020.pdf

The August 27 meeting is available on YouTube; click below to watch.

The next ZBA meeting is scheduled for September 10, 2020.


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