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An aerial view of the plot at 12-8-4 Kilton Road, which would include a health club, retail building and restaurant. (Courtesy Bedford Planning Board))

Bedford health club proposal raises concerns

BEDFORD — Residents who live near a proposed health club, to be built at the corner of Kilton Road and Sullivan Drive, expressed concerns over the project at Monday night’s planning board meeting.

Nicole Duquette, a project manager at Bedford-based land planning firm TFMoran, and Gene Beaudoin, director of retail development at Saxon Partners, a real estate company in Hingham, Mass., presented the request for conceptual review before the board. The property is owned by 12-8-4 Kilton Road, LLC and is currently classified by the town as in the “Performance Zone.”

“We’re proposing a 37,000 square-foot health club facility — two stories, or a first floor with a mezzanine,” Duquette told the board.

The development would also include an approximately 26,000 square-foot general retail building and a 6,000 square-foot sit-down restaurant, which Beaudoin said would be “fast-casual.”

Duquette said there are currently three proposed entrances to the site: one at Kilton Road and Sullivan Drive, which would be the main entrance; another off Ridgewood Road, toward the northeast end of the property, used for delivery and garbage pickup only; and a third optional entrance toward the west of the property, also off Ridgewood, which would be intended for area residents.

“We are proposing, at this point, 432 parking spaces, where 419 are required for all of the users on this site,” Duquette added. “We are possibly looking at some relief. We’re not quite sure on how much relief we need, because we do need to look at the architecturals still…We’re still evaluating the heights of these buildings.”

Duquette asked the board for their recommendations for the project. Board chairman Paul Goldberg said that all lighting on the site would need shielding, adding that Bedford is designated as a Dark Skies community.

“I would be very sensitive for any waiver on setback, because I feel that’s protection for the neighborhood,” Goldberg added.

After Goldberg opened the conversation for public comment, several residents of nearby condominium associations stepped forward. Paul Dollins, of 3 Ascot Court, in the Ridgewood at Bedford Condominiums complex, shared his concerns over increases in traffic that could stem from the proposed health club.

“There’s at least 250 [housing] units [in that area], and everyone’s got at least two cars,” Dollins said, including condos, affordable housing, and a nursing home in his estimate. “This road, it’s just not going to make it…It’s going to be a very dangerous situation if you have an entrance on Ridgewood Road.”

Dollins said he did not believe there are many streets in the entire town that have as many housing units as Ridgewood Road.

Beaudoin responded, saying the original plan did not include one of its current access points. It was added at the suggestion of staff to help Ridgewood Road residents access a traffic light more easily.

“Certainly, if that’s a pinch-point of the project, we’d be happy to have it be a chain-break for the fire department,” Beaudoin said. “It’s an easy change for us.”

Brenda Beal, of 32 Pimlico Court, also located in Ridgewood, said she was worried that crime would increase because of the project’s proximity to her neighborhood.

“We’re up there, kind of sequestered, and not a lot of people know about us, but I’m afraid that when you put a large commercial development in the area, that just opens us up to a lot of exposure to crime, and it’s a scary thing,” Beal said.

John Maxwell, of 4 Briston Court, located in the Briston Manor West 55-plus community, shared several concerns

“I would suggest, before you go far with this project, to take a ride up into Ridgewood and take a look at it,” Maxwell said. “We’ve got 174 condo units there, and plus all of the other elderly housing…I don’t understand how there can be any more traffic applied to that road.”

Maxwell said he did not think there should be any additional access to Ridgewood, except fire lanes. He added that he and his wife had submitted a list of 100 questions about the project for review.

“Are there going to be windows on the back of [the health club building]?” Maxwell added. “I mean, [people would be] looking in my living room.”

Maxwell also asked if the health club would be seeking a liquor license and expressed concern issues tied to that. Beaudoin told Maxwell he would review his list of questions and take them into consideration.

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