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September 16. 2013 9:48PM

Bank proposed for Bedford plaza off Rte. 101

BEDFORD — The owners of 209 Route 101 Realty are seeking a variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment to build a free-standing bank at the shopping plaza on Route 101 and Wallace Road.

A meeting tonight will address the proposed bank as well as some improvements to the 40-year-old plaza, including reconstruction of the paved parking areas facing Route 101 and Wallace Road with landscaped islands and green space; new, modern exterior lighting; removal of excess pavement around the site’s perimeter; and removal of one of two existing driveways at Wallace Road.

The variance is seeking approval of a 40-foot front yard at Wallace Road and 45 feet at Route 101, where a minimum of 60 feet is required by the town at each location. The ZBA denied the application on May 21, prompting the applicant to make design changes to address board members’ objections to the plan, said Steven Keach, of Keach-Nordstrom Associates, the applicant’s engineer.

According to resident Bill Greiner, one of the applicants, the proposed bank and improvements will create a more user-friendly plaza and will benefit taxpayers.

“Many years ago, there was a bank on that site. If we get this application approved, it will increase the town’s tax revenue. It will allow us to put more money into the plaza, eliminate the cut-through of traffic, and add more landscaping and more sidewalks for people to come to the plaza,” Greiner said. “Some people do walk to the plaza.”

According to the application, “Planned improvements resulting from reinvestment in the subject property will eliminate the appearance of a ‘tired’ strip plaza of mid-1970s vernacular and replace the same with an updated facility, which complements rather than detracts from the quality and appearance of adjoining properties at this prominent location.”

The application is supported by some residents, business owners and town officials.

In a letter to Greiner, Ronald Petrin, pharmacist and owner of Bedford Pharmacy, said the proposed bank will improve the plaza and be a benefit to customers.

“It will keep customers from having to cross (Route) 101 to get to a bank, certainly an important safety feature. It will make the 101 Plaza a more complete shopping experience,” Petrin said. “I am certain that ... these changes to the shopping plaza will be in line with the feel of the Bedford area, quaint, New England, yet modern, efficient and safe.”

Town Councilor Bill Jean said he supports the proposed bank and the design changes, saying his opinion is as a taxpaying resident of Bedford and not a town councilor nor a representative on the ZBA.

“I believe the redesign improves the safety of the site,” said Jean in a letter to town planner Rick Sawyer. “I am an advocate of responsible commercial development and redevelopment to strengthen the tax base for the town of Bedford. I believe this proposal accomplishes that objective without detriment to the residents.

Town Councilor Jim Scanlon also joins business owners and residents in support of the project, especially the landscaping and architectural improvements to the plaza.

“Progress in a community requires capital investment, imagination and consideration of the community’s lifestyle,” Scanlon said.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment’s meeting is at 7 p.m. tonight at the Bedford Meeting Room, BCTV Studios, 10 Meetinghouse Road.

sclark@newstote.com


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