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Hotel, Wayfarer redevelopment plans go before Bedford Board

BEDFORD — Two major conceptual plans were brought before the Planning Board on Monday — the proposed 57-guest room hotel for the Bedford Village Inn, and the redevelopment of the former Wayfarer Inn site on South River Road.

While traffic was the main issue addressed for both plans, each applicant provided some solutions for their respective projects. Each plan is still in the conceptual phase, and the Planning Board has requested more detailed information regarding traffic counts and access to the properties.

Jack Carnevale, owner of the Bedford Village Inn, said he is willing to work with the state Department of Transportation on the Route 101 improvements regarding left-hand turns.

The DOT's project is expected to create a median running through the middle of Route 101, with work scheduled to begin in 2017 and lasting about two years.

"We don't know if they're going to start on this end of 101 or the Wallace Road end of 101, or in the middle at the Meetinghouse Road," said Rick Sawyer, planning director.

The median would prevent traffic making left-hand turns in and out of the Bedford Village Inn property on Olde Bedford Way. In the meantime, Chris Rice, of TF Moran, is suggesting maintaining left-hand turns until the median is built. He is proposing building a 12-foot access lane going east, a 12-foot access lane going west and a 12-foot bypass shoulder lane going west at the property.

When the median is built, Rice said they will work with the DOT on a sign directing traffic to make a left at the light at Constitution Drive and Route 101.

"Our concern is that if we were just to sign that area with a 'do not enter,' people are so used to making that movement of crossing eastbound traffic they'll soon realize they can't and stop in the middle of 101 into 40 or 50 mile per hour cars going the other way," said Rice.

Sawyer said it is an interesting proposal and, "It's a possible compromise."

Harold Newberry, acting chairman, said at this time the right design might work.

Carnevale restated his position about maintaining safety for his guests, and said he has posted signs at the exits of the inn suggesting that people turn left and follow the road to the Constitution Drive traffic light.

He asked for the board's consideration to extend relief until the Route 101 project is completed. He said he is interested in seeing the DOT's design, and would feel more comfortable restricting left-hand turns with the agency's input.

Rice said the existing inn generates about 10 cars during peak hours from 4 to 6 p.m., which is about one car every six minutes, and the hotel will add 10 cars.

Carnevale described the exterior of the hotel, which will be Dutch colonial, with cedar-shake siding, a stone front and asphalt roofing. The building will probably have one gable and faux chimneys to support exhaust from the fireplaces in each guest room.

"We intend to build a quality building," he said.

Former Wayfarer Inn Jeff Kevan, of TF Moran engineering firm, said the Wayfarer redevelopment will adhere to the historic features of the property, and the former inn and convention center will be torn down.

Bowman Brook intersects the 16-acre property at 121 South River Road and it will be developed as two parcels — one containing a four-story 72-unit apartment building, a 5,872-square-foot sit-down restaurant and a 4,000-square-foot fast food restaurant. The other parcel will have a 2,900-square-foot bank and two connecting stores of 40,000 square feet and 11,000 square feet. The project is expected to be build in three or four phases.

Some controversy had arisen about the historic value of the property, which dates to 1744 when John Goffe, one of the earliest settlers of Bedford, built and operated mills along Bowman Brook. The existing John Goffe's mill was reconstructed by his descendent, George Woodbury, in 1939. When the Wayfarer Inn opened in 1962, the mill was incorporated into the complex.

Kevan said he has been working with the state's dam bureau, and the mill and the dams can remain, but the footbridge must be removed.

"We can leave the John Goffe's mill portion of the building. It can't be occupied. We may be able to use if for storage but it can't house a museum or other use with people in it," said Kevan. "We talked about a plaque or some other thing to identify the historic features."

The plan includes a pathway to the apartment building and the stores, with connections to the Bedford Mall and Macy's, and sitting areas and a patio along the brook.

He is also asking for permission for right turn lanes in and out of the property along South River Road, however some Planning Board members felt it could create traffic and safety problems.

"That property is a challenging property and traffic is going to be challenging. We need something that says we are not going to add to the problem," said Newberry.

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