The proposed 20-unit rental development at 330 South Road is one step closer to final approval.
The so-called Village at Merriam Farm has been approved by the state Department of Housing and Community Development.
Atty. Pamela Brown, representing owners Jennifer and Steve Soillis of Concord, said she is preparing an information package for the Zoning Board of Appeals and hopes to be on the board’s agenda in about five weeks.
If the Zoning Board issues a comprehensive permit, she said, construction could begin late in the summer.
All of these intermediate steps are unusual because the project is tracking under provisions of the state Local Initiative Program (LIP). This is also known as a “friendly 40B.”
The state law known as Chapter 40B accelerates multi-family development if at least 25 percent of the units are designated as affordable. Bedford is exempt from this approach because more than 10 percent of the town’s total housing inventory is so designated.
But by voting their support of the South Road proposal, the Select Board and the Housing Partnership cleared a path for the same process, which explains the “friendly” part.
Once those endorsements were secured, the developer only needed the state agency’s approval and the comprehensive permit from the zoning board.
The Village at Merriam Farm plan comprises the construction of a two-unit townhouse and renovation of three existing buildings—two barns and a house. The apartments would range between 760 and 1,200 square feet in area.
Neighborhood residents have expressed concern about traffic, especially since the site is close to the busy intersection of South Road and Summer Street.
The initial plan was reduced by four units, and secondary access is planned to connect with Summer Street. The developer also has committed to providing an easement that would facilitate town-initiated traffic circulation improvements.
Brown noted that the process, which did not begin as a proposed LIP, has taken about three years. The first approval, by the Housing Partnership, was issued more than seven months ago.
The Department of Housing and Community Development validated the project’s LIP status after inspecting the site and financial feasibility.
Four of the 20 units will be affordable. The Housing Partnership agreed to this reduction from five in exchange for broadening the formula for rental eligibility.
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at email@example.com, or 781-983-1763