Citizens for a Safe Bedford
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Appeal Update

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 considerations.

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.


Appeal Update

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; Fax 617-727-9725
Public Health Commissioner Christine Ferguson, 250 Washington St, Boston, MA 02108;
Fax 617-624-6001
Representative Charlie Murphy, State House, Room 156, Boston, MA 02133; Fax 617-722-2774
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 possible, 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, call 275-1246.