Select Board Endorses DeVellis Housing Proposal for Carlisle Road

All members of the Select Board reacted with enthusiasm Monday to an ambitious plan for a wide range of residential housing units proposed for almost 50 undeveloped acres off Carlisle Road.

And that’s significant because Brian DeVellis and his Carlisle Road Bedford LLC hope to expedite the proposal as a Local Initiative Project (LIP) with the board as a partner. He presented an overview to the Select Board at its virtual meeting.

The plan is for a “pedestrian-friendly” neighborhood on 35 acres not far from the compost center across the road. Single-family houses would front onto the street, with duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, and a three-story, 36-unit senior housing apartment building along a loop road in the interior.

There’s also a 14-acre site just west of Northside convenience, where DeVellis wants to erect a single structure accommodating a “co-housing” arrangement. He envisions clusters of four individual bedrooms, each with a common kitchen, dining, and living space. “We think this would be a pretty cool option for the space, he said. “From the street it would appear to be another New England barn structure.”

DeVellis said the current plan is for 153 housing units – he said he prefers to use the term “home,” which includes a single co-housing bedroom. He pointed out that, by right, the sites could be developed with nine $2 million single-family houses.

At least 25 percent of the planned units would meet the state definition of “affordable,” as a LIP falls under the provisions of the law known as Chapter 40B. That provides for a streamlined project, bypassing zoning if at least a quarter of the housing units are affordable. Such developments are usually adversarial, but since Bedford has surpassed the state’s threshold for affordable housing proportion, the LIP is considered a “Friendly 40B.”

‘We look at this as a partnership with the town,” DeVellis said regarding the affordable component. The number could exceed 25 percent if financially feasible, he said; “where it goes from there is up to the partnership.”

DeVellis said the plan addresses the mix of housing options identified in the Planning Board’s 2013 comprehensive plan and the town’s 2019 housing study. The surveys showed a desire to accommodate “empty-nesters,” the elderly, workforce, persons seeking “starter homes,” energy-efficient residences, and townhouses. Accessible units.

Housing options can enhance racial and ethnic diversity and the ability “to age in place,” DeVellis said, quoting from the reports. The project, he said, provides “something that satisfies almost everything that the townspeople say they want.”

DeVellis said he hopes to be in a position to start construction by the end of the year if he can get the support of the Select Board and Housing Partnership, as well as the required approval from the state Department of Housing and Community Development and the town Zoning Board of Appeals.

He said he will continue to seek input from the Trails Committee, Council on Aging, and Conservation Commission, which he said already has locked in wetland boundaries on the site.

DeVellis pointed to the emphasis on architectural preservation, considering features like roof pitch and scale. He displayed a photograph of the so-called Flanagan Barn on Old Billerica Road as a model. “We look at what’s best to preserve not what’s best to develop.” He envisions “a pedestrian community with a common village green. We want people to walk around and get to know their neighbors.”

He acknowledged concerns mentioned by Select Board members. “We understand traffic is going to be important,” DeVellis said. “It’s a lot of homes, but not a lot of peak-hour traffic.” “There will be many opportunities to review as the project moves along,” said Town Manager Sarah Stanton.

The concerns did not offset the positive vibrations. Board member Bopha Malone, who resides on Carlisle Road, said the variety of housing options “would make our community stronger and more vibrant.” Her colleague Margot Fleischman said, “I’m very excited about it. I really appreciate the thoughtfulness to design.”

“I really appreciate your willingness to work with us,” said member Shawn Hanegan, who also cited the need for more “middle housing.”  Select Board member Ed Pierce stated, “I think this is a great project. I am looking forward to what we can do to actually move this forward.”

Board Chair Emily Mitchell commented, “I do appreciate the creativity here, the way you have taken what the town said we wanted and tried to put it into a project that’s useful.” She particularly praised the concept of incorporating the historic architectural look.

DeVellis told the board his team has reached out not only to various town departments but also to Carlisle Road residents. He said he wants to schedule community meetings for neighbors and other residents. The vision includes a sidewalk on the north side of the street connecting to the North Road business district.

Malone suggested s conversation with the Arbor Resources Committee. Hanegan advised a conversation with school officials as well as with public safety and public works leadership. “We’ll have as many meetings as you want, not just about what we’re doing but why,” DeVellis responded.

Fleischman commented on the potential for sustainability. New construction presents “opportunities for ground-source heat units,” she said, and there may also be financial incentives “to have a showcase of some of the newer technology.” Ultimately these make things more affordable for residents, she added, as “they will pay less to heat and cool their homes.”

She also suggested that the team contact residents of Harvard Drive, some of whom may be able to see the new housing.

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at mike@thebedfordcitizen.org, or 781-983-1763


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ron green
ron green
5 months ago

Select Board endorses…. Wow. Isn’t it customary for town boards to review the proposal — like zoning, wetlands, planning and all like that? Surprised these steps were skipped before the Selectboard said word one.

S G
S G
5 months ago

As a Carlisle Rd resident I really have concerns about traffic. In the article I found only one “solution” for this problem – to call the project “pedestrian-friendly”.

Ted T. Martin
Ted T. Martin
5 months ago
Reply to  S G

That’s why it’s pedestrian friendly, sounds fine…

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