Following a protracted discussion, members of the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) voted 4:2 on Tuesday night in favor of allowing demolition of the 1911-era home at 37 Hillside Ave. to proceed. This was the third public hearing on the case. At the first hearing, the HPC deemed the meeting “historically significant”; at the second public hearing, the Commission did not come to a decision but requested a walk-through of the property, which took place on May 15.
With Tuesday night’s decision, the development team of Suzanne and Ryan Koller and Nicholas and Nikki Vercollone (Highline Construction) can now go forward with their plan to demolish the existing structure along with a pool, garage, and deck and to build what they call a “reproduction” of the home. The distinctive roofline will be maintained. As noted in Historic Properties and Neighborhoods of Bedford, Massachusetts by Kathleen Kelly-Broomer, the home was listed in the National Register historic district in 1977. It is described as “uncommon among early 20th-century residential buildings in Bedford and retains many character-defining features of the Craftsman style.”
The listing in the National Register was one of the reasons cited by HPC member Don Corey for his negative vote. Corey said he could not in good conscience support demolition which he felt would set a precedent. Member Richard LeShack also voted no. Other members, including Chair John Lenz, although voting in the affirmative, acknowledged that this was an extremely difficult decision. Member David Goldbaum, in a strong affirmative vote, felt that structural conditions and economic challenges posed by this dwelling ruled out the possibility of renovating the existing structure.
At their May 13 meeting, the Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to grant 37 Hillside LLC a special permit for the demolition of a house and construction of a larger house on a non-conforming lot, with the following conditions: that the above ground pool, the garage, the deck, and the driveway be demolished. This vote was contingent on the decision which was expected from the HPC on May 25. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGxn7ID8yj8.
Here is the link to an earlier discussion by both the HPC and the ZBA: