The Planning Board approved a site plan for modifications to a building at 40 Middlesex Turnpike last week with an emphasis on security.
That’s because the three-story, 72,000-square-foot office building will house two undisclosed federal government agencies under a 15-year lease. FD Stonewater recently purchased the property from Aware, Inc.
The site plan features several proposed improvements, including eight-foot security fencing, alterations to the parking layout, a covered garage entry, and a loading dock.
There is currently one access from Middlesex Turnpike and the applicants have been asked to consider adding pedestrian access. The property also has a secondary access to a common driveway at 36 Middlesex Tpke., which the applicant has proposed closing off.
Stonewater’s representative, Zachary Richards, emphasized the importance of security given the fact that the building will be leased by multiple government agencies.
He reported that Stonewater explained these concerns to the Bedford Fire Department and worked to create access ways that would maintain project security while allowing emergency access. Richards also highlighted the addition of a new stormwater drain to increase drainage.
Planning Board member Jacinda Barbehenn expressed concern about the security levels and asked what agencies would be tenants in the building. Board Chair Steven Hagan explained that the board is not permitted to ask what the agencies are or what work they will be engaged in, given the security implications.
Town Planning Director Tony Fields noted that the board does not have authority to reject the project, as it is under federal control, but that the board can make suggestions.
Barbehenn feared that the proposed eight-foot fence might intimidate residents. The board recommended adding shrubbery outside of the fence to create a more pleasing aesthetic. Stonewater’s representative Heather Howard clarified that the public walkways will remain in place, but the parking lot will be secured and closed to the public.
Richards explained that Stonewater is currently working to provide additional lighting in the parking lot. The site plan additionally entails striping the parking lot, including several handicapped spaces along the front of the building.
Stonewater’s representatives agreed to consider joining the Middlesex 3 Coalition. That organization’s website says its members, in towns contiguous to Route 128 and the state line, “include stakeholders in local government, business, finance, education and development who have combined resources to promote the competitive advantages of the region and advance the economic vitality of the corridor.”