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Town Meeting 2017: Voters and Abutters Oppose Urbanization of Bedford

By CNHT | January 24, 2017

Abutters and residents oppose urbanization of Old Bedford Road area

Will “commercial creep” raise property taxes while decreasing the property values of existing residential property in the area? Will mixed-used zoning have the potential to increase the school population more than can already be accommodated? Will the increase in commercial ventures on Old Bedford Road cause additional traffic on route 101 during rush hour? Will these commercial efforts effect a change in the rural flavor of the Town of Bedford?

Submitted recently was a citizens petitioned warrant article for consideration to be placed on the March town ballot. The request is to change three lots on Old Bedford Rd. with a combined area of 19.55 acres, from Residential & Agricultural (R&A) to Commercial (CO). The three contiguous parcels proposed for rezoning include 18 Olde Bedford Way (3.88 acres), 20 Olde Bedford Way (3.65 acres), and 24 Old Bedford Road (12.02 acres). All of the parcels currently include single-family homes built between 1977 and 1986. This citizens petitioned warrant article was submitted by a planning board member, Attorney Karen McGinley, after requests for zoning variances by Attorney Karen McGinley, Devine Millimet & Branch, Chris Rice, T. F. Moran, and Gary Beaulieu, and Old Bedford Road Realty, LLC were abandoned.

There are at least 9 abutters, along with many other residents, who do not agree that this zoning change should be made. They do not want to see high-rise or other commercial buildings behind, or within sight of, the Bedford Village Inn buildings, an historical landmark considered the “visual gateway to Bedford”.

From the Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting minutes from 11-15-2016 with important sections highlighted, you can see the areas affected, although as we noted, the requests for these variances have since been withdrawn and some of the plans may have changed since then:

https://www.bedfordnh.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/11152016-1590

2. Old Bedford Road Realty, LLC – Requests a variance from Article III, Section 275-10, 275-21 and Table 2 to permit a mixed use development, with commercial uses, ten workforce housing units (not age restricted) and elderly housing with single family homes, multiplex homes and apartments in the Residential and Agriculture Zone where it is not a permitted use at 18 & 20 Olde Bedford Way and 24 Old Bedford Road, Tax Map 10, Lots 50-3, 50-5 & 50-6, Zoned R&A.

3. Old Bedford Road Realty, LLC – Requests a variance from Article III, Section 275-21 B.(2)[1] to permit a reduction of affordable housing units from 25% to 10% and to permit the units to not be age-restricted at 18 & 20 Olde Bedford Way and 24 Old Bedford Road, Tax Map 10, Lots 50-3, 50-5 & 50-6, Zoned R&A.

We also learned from those minutes that McGinley was recently reappointed to the Southern NH REGIONAL Planning Commission for another 4-year term that expires on June 30, 2020. She’s currently serving as the Chairman of the Commission and at the time of that meeting. The project manager, Michael Castagna, stated that he was an officer of the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast (NGO).

Please continue to read about the scope of this project from pages 9 through pages 35, which may have changed somewhat. You can also read testimony, generally given in opposition, from abutters and other residents. One resident pointed out that the project which created the apartment buildings that now exist on the hill behind Dunkin’ Donuts had changed significantly AFTER it was approved, both in those minutes and in the following minutes from the Planning Board on January 9, 2017.

https://nh-bedford.civicplus.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/01092017-1608

The Bedford Planning Board will hold public hearings at 7:00 PM on Monday, January 23, 2017 in the Bedford Meeting Room at BCTV, 10 Meetinghouse Road, Bedford, NH 03110, to hear comments from interested persons on proposed amendments to the Bedford Zoning Ordinance outlined here.

ZONING AMENDMENT SUBMITTED BY CITIZEN PETITION:

Amendment No. 8

Are you in favor of the adoption of Amendment No. 8 as proposed by petition of Old Bedford Road Realty, LLC and others to amend the Town of Bedford Code, Chapter 275, ZONING, Article II, ESTABLISHMENT OF DISTRICTS, Section 275-8, Location of Districts, as follows: To amend the Official Zoning Map of the Town of Bedford, New Hampshire by Rezoning the following parcels of land from the current zoning classification of Residential/Agricultural (R&A) to Commercial (CO): 18 Olde Bedford Way Tax Map/Lot 10-50-5, 20 Olde Bedford Way Tax Map/Lot 10-50-6, and 24 Old Bedford Road Tax Map/Lot 10-50-3, which three (3) lots consist of a combined total of 19.55 acres. Each lot currently has a single family house located on it. The lots are bordered by The Grand at the Bedford Village Inn on the south and the Bedford Hills mixed use development on the east, which are both zoned Commercial, and by homes on the west and the north, which are zoned Residential/Agricultural. The owner of record is Old Bedford Road Realty, LLC.

[The Planning Board does/does not support passage of this amendment. The Board will discuss the amendment at the public hearings on January 23rd and will vote to support or not support the zoning amendment.]

Read more about zoning descriptions and see the actual petition and signatures here:

https://nh-bedford.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/1803

In addition to attending the next Planning Board meeting on the 23rd of January at 7:00 PM to offer your opinion on this zoning change, here is some action you can take NOW:

– Share this article with as many Bedford residents as possible.

– View these videos:

Part 1: https://youtu.be/AemuI29lC-g

Part 2: https://youtu.be/WLruzODmhFU

Part 3: https://youtu.be/oUfAZ4IUWj8

Part 4: https://youtu.be/N4qkxHWwp0M

Part 5: https://youtu.be/W44JAz2gBRU

– Write Letters to the Editors of various Bedford and local newspapers (Journal, Bulletin, Union Leader) expressing your concerns.

– Should it be decided that the warrant article/zoning amendment be included on the March ballot, please Vote “NO”.

Original article in Union Leader:

http://www.newhampshire.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20161103/NEWHAMPSHIRE1408/161109817/-1/newhampshire1408

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