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Bedford church gets OK to build large addition

BEDFORD — Manchester Christian Church received site plan approval to build one of the largest meeting spots in Bedford.

The plan calls for construction of an 18,500-square-foot addition including an auditorium area and a connection between the new worship space and the existing building at 56 Old Bedford Road.

The church received site plan approval for a 40,000-square-foot project in 2003 when it was still called Bedford Community Church, but only built about 13,000-square-feet according to project consultant Chris Riley. The new addition will keep the project slightly under the previous approval.

The site plans have been reengineered to address issues raised last month at a conceptual site plan review. The height and number of retaining walls were reduced. The architecture of the building itself had not changed. While it looks different than the architecture typically seen around town, it is consistent with the neighboring Memorial School in that both have multiple components and flat roofs, Riley said.

The architects brought to the site what the church needed for its programming, he said.

“We weren’t really trying to have a traditional church look for this facility,” Riley said. “The programming that Manchester Christian Church provides is not typical. I would say that is one of the strong characteristics for its expanded and rapid growth over the past few years.”

The church provided an updated traffic study determining that Sunday would be the peak traffic day. Programming adjustments, such as allowing an hour between services to avoid overlap and congestion during peak hours will be implemented. The study concluded that one exit was sufficient and that adding a second lane would be difficult due to site constraints such as slopes and wetlands.

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