The Planning Board has approved a special permit for a non-conforming façade size on a proposed three-story mixed-use building proposed at 310 The Great Road, currently the site of the closed Papa Gino’s.
The special permit waives the minimum requirement for the width of the front façade. As the plan shows, the facade makes up approximately 57 percent of the lot frontage while The Great Road Shawsheen zoning district requires 60 percent.
Board members took the action at an April 13 site-plan review and public hearing. The review is scheduled to continue at a virtual meeting on April 27.
This is not the development’s only non-conformance, with the Zoning Board of Appeals previously granting a variance on the first-floor ceiling height the previous week, allowing it to be 12 feet instead of the bylaw’s 14-foot requirement.
In response to questions from the board regarding sustainability, Atty. Pamela Brown and architect John Caveney noted they will not be including solar panels. However, the development does use sustainable materials and includes an enclosed recycling room and resident bicycle storage.
Board member Amy Lloyd responded, saying that she would like to see solar remain an option as the building is developed, along with possible electric vehicle charging stations for the residents.
The developer has also decided to add a bus shelter to the plan in response to a suggestion from the board. However, members expressed concern that the size of the outcropping on which the bus shelter would go might not be large enough to house it. They suggested adding a larger outcropping at the corner of the lot, mirroring the one directly adjacent to it on the Dunkin’ lot.
The issue of stormwater on the property was raised. Members of the board suggested that the developer meet with the Conservation Commission and Department of Public Works to find a solution. Brown also pointed out that, even with the current plan, the stormwater management will be improved over the status quo.
Several residents offered comments at the virtual hearing. Madeleine Kando of Elmbrook Circle said new residential development along that section of The Great Road might make the traffic issue in the area substantially worse. Brown noted that a study showed that the traffic level for the development would be lower than Papa Gino’s traffic level.
Community member Mario Mendes said that he felt that prohibiting the left turn out of the property onto The Great Road would not be an issue for those living and working on the property. Board member Shawn Hanegan agreed. Mendes also suggested making some of the parking along the back of the property porous pavement.
David Powell noted his appreciation for the plan’s goal to revamp the Shawsheen subdistrict. Powell also added that the lot size waiver would be needed for any development that wouldn’t be simply another fast-food restaurant.
Jan van Steenwijk, who has commented on the plan previously in the hearing, pointed out the effect the building would have on cyclists. The building sits fairly close to the road, not leaving much room for a future widening of The Great Road.
Multiple community members also raised an issue with the proposed architecture of the building, saying that it seemed too “blocky” and “charmless”, departing from Bedford’s small-town character. Hanegan pointed out that the goal of the Shawsheen subdistrict is aimed at creating a more commercial feel in the area.