Sebbins Brook Crossing apartments

Sebbins Brook Crossing is a new conceptual development being eyed for South River Road in Bedford.

BEDFORD — Three hundred apartments could potentially be constructed near Sebbins Brook — the latest in a string of development projects along the South River Road corridor that has been bustling with activity in recent years.

The mixed-use conceptual plan, currently dubbed Sebbins Brook Crossing, also includes a three-story medical office building, a three-story general office building, a drive-thru restaurant and a pool, according to plans on file at town hall.

Circle Drive Associates is interested in constructing the apartments on two parcels totaling 27 acres across from Iron Horse Drive. Conceptual plans show six proposed apartment buildings with 50 units each.

“Each building is five stories high with an underground garage that holds about 36 spaces. There is a large green space in the center of the northern cluster of buildings, and a clubhouse and pool are located at the entrance to the back half of the site,” said Katherine Weiss, project manager with Bedford Design Consultants Inc.

Conceptual plans also include 600 parking spaces for the apartment units.

Residential housing is not currently permitted in the town’s performance zone where the property is located, meaning a waiver would need to be granted by town officials in order for the project to move forward, assuming a formal site plan is ultimately submitted.

Mark Connors, assistant planning director, said the land represents one of the largest remaining undeveloped parcels in Bedford’s performance zone.

“It is not clear from the materials submitted if the apartments are envisioned to be market rate or a workforce housing development, though the applicant did indicate to the conservation commission that workforce housing is not currently planned,” Connors wrote in a report to the planning board.

The board is expected to review the conceptual plans for the apartments, the 24,000-square-foot medical office building, the 9,720-square-foot general office building, and the 3,500-square-foot drive-thru restaurant.

With the exception of the apartments, the other uses are permitted in the performance zone, according to Connors.

“The residential uses proposed in this application overwhelm the proposed commercial uses, with the residential uses composing approximately 92 percent of the square footage of the development,” he said. “It would be the preference of staff to advance a wholly commercial development, or to at least better balance the proposed mix to include fewer residential units and more commercial square footage to better balance the community tax base.”

The vacant site was previously approved for various projects including a funeral home, retail development, warehousing and manufacturing, but none of those plans ever came to fruition.

Scott Hunter, the town’s fire chief, has already raised concerns about the five-story height of the proposed apartment buildings, citing the fire department’s limited equipment and staffing, and saying the Sebbins Brook Crossing project is well outside a 5-minute benchmark for response times for first responders.

“For this reason, additional occupancies like this project are a challenge for us given the location of current fire resource facilities until infrastructure enhancements are in place,” said Hunter. “It is sobering to note that as time in response increases, the probability of a successful outcome decreases proportionately.”

A separate conceptual plan in Bedford would call for 290 apartments to be constructed as part of the Market and Main development. (Read more on this story at unionleader.com.)

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