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Former Shorty’s in Bedford could be razed if density variance for apartment project is not granted

Union Leader Correspondent

October 09. 2018 10:08PM
Developers who want to build 120 apartments say they might raze the former Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse building on Route 101 in Bedford if they cannot come to an agreement with the town for a variance. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/FILE)

BEDFORD — The former Shorty’s restaurant will be razed if the developers for a proposed apartment complex behind Bedford High School do not receive a density variance to allow for the construction of 120 units.

Developers Dick Anagnost and Bill Greiner must obtain a density variance in order for the 120 apartments to be built, and they need 114 units to be constructed to generate enough demand for a gas line.

“If we do not get the variance, we will simply tear down the former Shorty’s building, and that part of the site will permanently remain vacant, and that (adjacent) land would be added to our density calculation. And that would mean we could build 115 apartments without a variance and by right, and it would be a smooth and efficient planning process,” Greiner wrote in a recent letter to the Bedford School Board’s facilities committee.

He acknowledged that the downside to this process is that Bedford would lose about $1.5 million in assessable property.

“We are fully prepared to do this, if necessary, in order to get the density we are seeking,” Greiner wrote. “We don’t need permission from the town to demolish the former Shorty’s building and therefore increase the number of apartment units we can build. All of this is a right of development, and it is the role of the planning board to govern this process.”

It would, however, mean the end of Anagnost’s vision to renovate the former Shorty’s restaurant along Route 101 and convert it into a family-friendly dining establishment as currently planned.

Great NH Restaurants has proposed using the space for a new concept that would combine a T-Bones-style family restaurant with a sports bar.

The plan is contingent on the building, which is now on a septic system, getting water and sewer service, CEO Tom Boucher told the Union Leader last week.

To date, about 400 Bedford residents have signed an online petition voicing opposition to the apartment project behind Bedford High School, which would be housed along a new road dubbed Bow Lane; the petition asks town officials to reject all future proposals for apartments in town.

“We do not need more apartments. We need to preserve the interior of the town, preserve the green space we have and recommit to lowering our taxes, not increasing them significantly,” wrote Scot Landies, one of the petitioners. “The schools are overcrowded, the roads are gridlock and they want to put another 1,000 people at the epicenter.”

Landies went on to describe Bedford as a premium town, saying it won’t be for much longer if local leaders are unwilling to stand up to developers.

If approved, Landies said it would be a sweet money deal for the developers, but at the expense of the town.

According to Greiner, the project is proposing to connect to the existing sewer and water lines on Bedford High School’s property.

In exchange, Greiner said they are willing to provide some benefits to the school district.

The developers are offering to construct sidewalks from the back of the high school, down Chestnut Drive and then connect to Route 101.

They will also straighten the curve of Chestnut Drive so that emergency vehicles and buses would have a secondary access to the high school campus.

In addition, the apartment complex would generate enough demand to justify Liberty Utilities to bring natural gas down County Road and connect to the school district office building, McKelvie Intermediate School, the high school and the sewer pump station at no cost to the school system, according to Greiner’s letter.

He is offering to contribute $100,000 to the school district to cover the costs to convert school burners for natural gas, as well as the district’s legal expenses.

If connecting to the school district’s water and sewer is not approved by school officials, Greiner said the developers could instead connect to sewer and water from Nashua Road. However, none of the other perks would be feasible, including the natural gas line, sidewalks and road work.

General News Bedford

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