Town Meeting voters approved zoning adjustment allowing the Coast Guard property to be converted to Pine Hill Crossing, a new housing development.

The Planning Board had previously attempted to amend the the bylaws during special Town Meeting last fall, but the plan was rejected by residents. Complaints centered around handicap accessibility and affordability. Planning Board Chairman Shawn Hanegan presented the article  Monday, March 26.  highlighting adjustments  made to the proposition since last fall.

"We have made some important changes since last fall," Hanegan said. "We worked on accessibility during last year's proposal but after the public feedback we really focused on it further this time around."

The proposal centers around the former Coast Guard property,  purchased by the town with the understanding it would be immediately sold to a developer. The developer has already made renovations to some of the buildings on the property, buildings now being leased to renters. The proposal would be to establish 16 new units on the property which would have to be built from the ground up. Between the current and  proposed units, the town is aiming to have 28 on the property.

While residents expressed concern about traffic and potential increases to the public school system by attracting new families to Bedford, the appeal of affordable housing for working class individuals and older residents looking to downsize won out, and the proposal passed by an overwhelming majority. 

Nancy Winter, whose home on Gould Road was destroyed in a fire last November, has been living in one of the renovated homes on the property and testified that the neighborhood was full of nice homes.

"Since our house burned down, my husband David and I have been living on the property, and it has been a delightful place to live," Winter said.

Allen Morgan, who serves as the chair of the Council on Aging, said that Pine Hill Crossing is beneficial to seniors looking to remain in Bedford.

"A reoccurring topic at our board meetings has always been and continues to be the questions about suitable housing. We are aware of older members of the community who wish to downsize, but they can't find suitable properties to do so," Morgan said. "We hope that this effort will at least give some help to those who need it. We are pleased with the emphasis for the disabled and we appreciate the work that has been done by the planning board. Although we feel that this proposal is not necessarily perfect, it is better than what exists now."

Hanegan made clear that what was approved was only the adjustments being made to the zoning bylaws to make construction possible; the actual design and schematics of the new neighborhood are still to be finalized pending approval from the board in the coming months.