Hess station inappropriate for Bedford’s Route 101 commercial zone

To the Editor:

We are writing with regard to the upcoming Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing scheduled for Tuesday, March 18, as it pertains to the proposed gas station to be located at 2 Hardy Road at the intersection the northwest corner of Route 101.

Although we are in favor of businesses moving into vacant lots in town to boost our tax base, we do not feel this is an appropriate use of the land at that location. The Hess Corporation is requesting “a variance … in order to permit a gasoline service station within the commercial zoning district where it is not an allowed use,” according to the ZBA agenda for March 18 meeting.

However, there is not a compelling reason for allowing a variance of this magnitude. Allowing a variance opens the door for more noncompliant occupants along that stretch of road where future potential applicants will use Hess’ variance as justification for having their own variance requests approved.

Hess has reduced the scope of their original proposal from February, however, the size of the station will not reduce the traffic and safety impact. The proposed build of 12 fuel pumps and a 1,660-square-foot convenience store is still substantial. There will be frequent turns on and off of Route 101 and a significant increase in traffic from those accessing the station from Hardy Road, a relatively quiet neighborhood.

Due to the increase in Hardy Road traffic, there would be a need to increase cycle time and/or duration time at the traffic light at Hardy Road and Route 101, possibly adding a turn-only cycle. This will add to the already abysmal commute times traveling 101 in the mornings and evenings.

In the name of safety and maintaining intended usage on Route 101, we would encourage residents to attend the ZBA public hearing on March 18 to oppose the proposed Hess gas station.