Overview of Our Campaign
Under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40B, there is a presumption
in Land Court, where our appeal was filed, that the project is in
the best interests of Bedford because we have not met our affordable
housing quota. The task before us, therefore, is to convince the
Land Court that the health, safety and environmental risks posed
by the size and location of the project outweigh Bedford's affordable
housing needs. Historically, this has not often been successful.
But that was before West Nile Virus entered the country (1999),
and few projects have been proposed for such an environmentally
and traffic sensitive location.
We believe we have a strong case. We have spent countless hours
researching mosquito-borne diseases and traffic safety. We have
written dozens of letters to state and local officials and politicians,
copies of which are available. This background work strengthens
our case because our concerns are not new. The serious traffic and
pedestrian safety issues discussed in public hearings remain unsolved.
In addition, we believe AvalonBay has refused to have their project
reviewed by a Mosquito Expert because they fear the outcome and
establishing a precedent. It is clear they do not share our concerns,
as outlined in the Lowell Sun on Feb 21, about the devastation an
outbreak of West Nile or Eastern Equine Encephalitis would cause
to Bedford residents. The goals of the appeal include having the
project evaluated by a federal team of insect-borne disease experts,
and a new team of traffic experts with no prior ties to AvalonBay.
We believe these studies will prove that the health and safety risks
posed by the size and location of the AvalonBay project are overriding
Six of us are scheduled for deposition by AvalonBay in March, at
an estimated cost of $2200 each. We are preparing to demonstrate
during these depositions that our concerns will be viewed by the
Land Court as serious, and not as a frivolous attempt to delay their
project. Following the depositions, there will be a scheduling delay
of several months until the Land Court hearing. Please encourage
your friends and neighbors to help by sending a check made out to
"Hemenway and Barnes" to PO Box 1028, Bedford. A contribution
from every Bedford household could ensure the success of our appeal,
and any left over funds could provide the Affordable Housing Committee
resources to increase affordable housing units in Bedford. This
could convince the Massachusetts Housing Authority that Bedford
is now diligently solving the problem without the need for large,
for-profit land developers, such as AvalonBay and Princeton Properties,
who ignore Bedford health and traffic safety concerns.
Dear Fellow Bedford Resident,
The fight against AvalonBay continues! We have filed an appeal
against Land Court Judge Leon Lombardi’s decision that we
did not prove we had “standing” to bring the AvalonBay
project to Land Court. The trial transcript reveals we have a strong
case for an appeal, that we did prove we have “standing” because
of the 970 additional cars entering and exiting the project next
to our homes near the curve at St. Michael’s church.
Judge Lombardi’s ruling side-stepped the serious public health
and traffic safety issues with the 139 unit luxury apartment project
proposed for construction adjacent to Bedford’s White Cedar
Swamp. Mr. David Henley, Middlesex County Mosquito Control Officer,
expressed his concerns about the proposed location of the AvalonBay
project in a letter presented to the Bedford Zoning Board of Appeals
in 2000. Unfortunately, Mr. Henley’s concerns were ignored
by AvalonBay, Bedford’s ZBA, and Bedford’s Board of
Health, which could have stopped the AvalonBay project until its
public health and safety problems were rectified.
Judge Lombardi’s decision did not disagree with the evidence
against the project that was presented during our five day trial
in the fall of 2002. All expert witnesses agreed (including the
one hired by AvalonBay) that the drainage plan would increase the
risk of mosquito-borne diseases, and that measured sight distances
do not meet guidelines for car and pedestrian safety. Instead of
speaking to these serious issues, Judge Lombardi invoked a quirky
law that requires proof that appellants against a zoning board
ruling must be “more aggrieved than the community at large.” His
decision means that a “community at large” has no recourse
against a Zoning Board of Appeals ruling!
This is alarming, wrong, and must be appealed. Bedford residents
and businesses must protect themselves against increases in mosquito
borne disease risks and paralyzing traffic on Concord Road. We
need everyone’s help:
• Please make additional copies and mail, or fax, the enclosed
letter (pdf), or write your own, to:
Governor Mitt Romney, State House, Room 360, Boston, MA 02133;
Public Health Commissioner Christine Ferguson, 250 Washington St,
Boston, MA 02108;
Representative Charlie Murphy, State House, Room 156, Boston, MA 02133; Fax
Senator Susan Fargo, State House, Room 504, Boston, MA 02133;
and any other public official you deem important;
• Please contact and provide letter information to at least two other Bedford
residents who did not receive this letter (we are only mailing 1000 and there
are 5000 Bedford households).
• Please make a contribution to the legal defense fund,
and urge all your friends and neighbors to do the same. To continue
this fight, we need support
from all Bedford residents.
We have successfully fought the AvalonBay project for two years!
We are tired of the fight, but now is not the time to quit! Two
more appeals are
which could further delay the project for up to 4 years! If we don’t
continue the fight, the bulldozers will start in March, 2004.
Make contributions to: Citizens for a Safe Bedford or Hemenway
and Barnes, PO Box 1028, Bedford. To help us raise funds, spread
the word and keep
up the fight,