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Planning Board Public Hearing on Zoning Amendments for Assisted Living and Accessory Dwelling Units

January 26, 2021 @ 7:00 pm

At its meeting on January 26, 2021, the Planning Bylaw amendments relating to:
Assisted Living Overlay District                                                                                                                             This proposed amendment would allow assisted living facilities to be approved through a Planning Board special permit, within a defined area. The area of the proposed Overlay District (which offers an alternative to the base zoning district) is along South Road and Summer Street, from the bikeway at Bedford Depot to the Lexington town line. It would comprise properties with frontage on those roads. The draft bylaw includes dimensional criteria such as minimum lot size, setbacks and maximum height as well as design standards. The Zoning Bylaw currently only allows Assisted Living in the Great Road District, although it does provide for some other types of senior living facilities in Residential districts. The Planning Board’s interest in promoting this amendment is based on the growing size of Bedford’s senior population and demand expressed by residents for a wider range of living options. These matters have been identified and explored in the Comprehensive Plan, the Bedford Housing Study and the Council on Aging’s Senior Needs Assessment. A conceptual proposal for an Assisted Living development at 240-244 South Road, which would require a zoning change, has galvanized the discussion.
Accessory Dwelling Units                                                                                                                                                This amendment was included in the last Warrant, for the 2020 Annual Town Meeting, and was one of the items that were postponed in order to streamline the agenda for the outdoor meeting. A new public hearing has to be held because of the time lapse. The last public hearing is described in the News & Announcements item dated February 3, 2020. The first version of this zoning amendment was presented to the November, 2019 Town Meeting but narrowly failed to gain the required two-thirds majority. The text was then revised to provide for abutter notification and site plan review by the Planning Board for detached accessory dwelling units, and the rear setback was increased. The bylaw in place for the last 30 years already allows internal or attached accessory apartments by right. The amendment would also allow detached units, with strict criteria and a tightening of the original size rules.
Materials for the public hearings will be placed on the website under the “Planning Board Agenda Materials” tab on the left of the Planning page. Further background on Accessory Dwelling Units is available via the “ADU” icon in the center portion of the page.
The Board will receive comments from the public at the hearing and is aiming to finalize the proposals soon for inclusion in the Warrant for the 2021 Annual Town Meeting. As well as the Planning Board’s statutory hearing and recommendation, the Select Board and Finance Committee will provide recommendations under the Town Charter.
Click here to see the public hearing notice with details to access the remote meeting.