Proposed Hess station fails tests for commercial zoning variance

To the Editor:

We’re writing to oppose the Hess Corporation’s application for a variance to Bedford’s zoning ordinance.

The company’s proposed 20-pump, 10-island fueling station and 2,480-square-foot convenience store, at the northwest corner of Hardy Road and Route 101, fails several reasonable tests for granting a variance against the uses permitted in Bedford’s commercial zones:

? Property values – The market value of houses proximate to this facility would invariably drop due to noise, light pollution, decreased safety and security and poor aesthetics.

? Hazards – A fueling station, especially one of this size, represents an increased risk of fire and explosion. This is especially disconcerting given the site’s proximity to a nursery school housed within Bethany Covenant Church.

? Traffic safety – With thousands of itinerant cars and trucks traveling Route 101, constant ingress and egress from such a facility would exacerbate an already dangerous traffic situation.

? Ground water quality – Most concerning is the environmental degradation that a fueling station could have on the surrounding watershed. Gas stations are notoriously dirty land uses, and the run off could foul McQuade Brook, associated wetlands and residents’ well water for miles away.

The Route 101 corridor is ripe for smart development that creates value for investors while making a meaningful contribution to the special character of our town. In our view, a large Hess Express does not meet this aspiration. One need only consider the Google Street View of 543 Amherst St., Nashua, to understand the look and feel of such a facility.

Please consider joining the growing number of Bedford citizens who oppose this project by urging the Zoning Board of Adjustment to reject the requested zoning variance. The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 18 at BCTV.