ZBA Approves Two Teardown Proposals

The Zoning Board of Appeals approved two special permits to tear down existing houses and rebuild larger homes on the lots at its meeting on August 26.

Local zoning requires a permit for replacing a demolished house on lots less than 30,000 square feet in size unless that new structure is no larger than the original.

Over the past four years, a total of 50 Bedford houses have been torn down and rebuilt. In comparison, 38 houses have been built on vacant lots. While there was a downturn in developments in the last two years, the ratio of rebuilds to fresh builds has gotten higher.

Attorney Pamela Brown presented the first teardown proposal at 28 Summer St. to the Board of Appeals. At a previous meeting, neighbors of the property spoke against a plan to build a garage separate from the main building. The newly presented site plan depicts the garage attached to the house and remedies all other issues brought up at the previous meeting.

Zoning Board Member Angelo Colasante noted that, with all projects like this one, ensuring that all dimensions of the lot are accurate is paramount.

Brown also spoke on behalf of Greg Gardner for the second teardown project at 10 Houlton St. In addition to the special permit for the rebuild, Gardner was also looking to raise the base elevation on the property by two feet.

The main point of contention with the project was a retaining wall going around the rear of the property. The wall, partially crumbling due to adjacent trees, was built to maintain the area between 10 Houlton and the rear neighbor’s land.

Brown presented a plan to construct a trench above the wall to prevent further water damage to the wall. However, as Colasante pointed out, the ZBA does not have the authority to rule on stormwater plans.

Jeffrey Campagna and members of the Hwang family, both rear abutters to the property, stressed the need to repair the wall, both for structural and cosmetic reasons. Colasante and other board members agreed, with Colasante adding that conditions to maintain the integrity of the wall would be included in a special permit for the project.

In another case heard at the meeting, Donald McInnis of 139 Old Billerica Road sought a special permit to add over 600 square feet to his home on a non-conforming lot. The permit was granted unanimously with all Board members seeing the addition to be reasonable. A similar case was made at the ZBA’s July meeting for a home at 45 Springs Road; it was continued to the Board’s next meeting on Sept. 9.

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