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Development & zoning: More waivers in Bedford


The shopping plaza at the corner of Wallace Road and Route 101 in Bedford, anchored by Harvest Market, is getting a long overdue upgrade. Everyone involved seems to agree that the renovations and construction of a new bank building will serve the people, the tenants and the town very well. So why did the upgrades require a zoning variance?

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The plaza was built in the 1970s. It just lost an anchor tenant (Dunkin’ Donuts) to the new plaza at the corner of Routes 101 and 114. Though it is a nice looking little plaza, the need to upgrade it from a competitive standpoint is obvious. But the owners’ first proposal was rejected by the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
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The owners came back with a new proposal. This one was approved, thankfully, even though it violated the zoning rules for the site. It took a variance to get this beneficial redevelopment approved.

The busy new Market Basket in town also was built only because of a variance. The town granted the variance, approving a store twice the size allowed by the zoning rules, then rewrote the rules after being sued by Hannaford, which had dutifully — and disadvantageously — followed the size rules.
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Beneficial commercial development should not require the waiving of regulations on a case-by-case basis by town officials. When that happens, it is a clear sign that the regulations are too strict.
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