190214-news-workforce

New conceptual plans have been submitted for Bedford’s Bow Lane development project. Although an original plan included four apartment buildings, town planners will review a conceptual design later this month for three apartment buildings at the site behind the high school. (Kimberly Houghton)

BEDFORD — Developers for the proposed Bow Lane apartment complex behind the high school have submitted a new conceptual design that would decrease the number of units for the workforce housing project.

The controversial apartment plan, which has garnered a petition with about 1,000 signatures in opposition, originally called for four buildings with a total of 120 apartments — 90 market rate units and 30 workforce housing units.

However, the town’s planning director previously made an administrative decision indicating that only 95 apartments are permitted on the property, according to density calculations; the developer is appealing that decision.

New conceptual plans were recently submitted to the Planning Board with a revised design of the workforce housing project that now includes three buildings with a total of 93 units.

According to the conceptual plans on file at town hall, the amended design includes three, three-story apartment buildings for a combined 41,751 square feet with 36 units in one structure, 33 units in a second building and 24 units in the third building.

The plan also includes the renovation of the former Shorty’s building into a new restaurant, which was also included in the original plan.

“There has been a lot of discussions with various parties with respect to this project, which is a workforce housing project, which is allowed in the (commercial) zone,” attorney John Cronin told the Zoning Board recently. Cronin, who is representing developers Bill Greiner and Dick Anagnost, stressed that workforce housing is valuable and vital to not only Bedford, but the entire state.

“Workforce housing is not new in Bedford, either. In fact, it has been part of the zoning district since 2009,” Greiner said earlier, adding no subsidies are offered with workforce housing.

According to Greiner, Bedford has built less than 150 workforce units since 2009, even though the deficit of workforce housing at the time was listed at 1,200 units.

Many residents have spoken out in opposition to the project, raising concerns about the filling of wetlands, excess traffic, bringing additional students into the school system and the parcel’s proximity to the high school.

“We are going to have some serious problems,” one Bedford resident told zoning officials at a recent meeting, noting many students walk to the nearby plaza that includes Pizza Bella.  “We just can’t afford any extra traffic there.” 

The local conservation commission previously recommended denying a request to fill nearly 6,000 square feet of wetlands to develop the site, noting concerns with the long-term impact to nearby Riddle Brook.

A representative with the Dumas family, who owns 43-acres of abutting land, said although the family does not have an issue with the wetlands being filled, it does have concerns and questions about the proposed project.

Becky Soule of New Boston Road urged the zoning board to delay any formal votes on variances for the development.

“I think that maybe it might be a little too soon, and that there are more questions and more answers that can come forth before a variance is granted or denied,” said Soule.

Last month, the Zoning Board tabled all votes on the project and required that an independent review of the wetland documentation take place. Although a Zoning Board meeting was set for next week, it has since been canceled.

A design review of the new conceptual plan with 93 apartments instead of 120 apartments is set for 7 p.m. on Feb. 25 at the BCTV meeting room before the Planning Board.