Bedford residents will decide next week whether or not to amend town bylaw and allow homeowners in the historic district to bypass the Historic District Commission when it comes to installing solar panels on their homes.
The warrant article coming before Town Meeting on Nov. 13 would allow homeowners to install rooftop solar panels without the commissionâ€™s prior approval as long as the panels match the color of the roof, are installed parallel to the surface to the roof, are set back from the edges of the roof to minimize their visibility and all conduits are hidden from view.
The proposal comes after a long-running dispute between the First Parish Church and the town, stemming from the Historic District Commissionâ€™s refusal to permit the church to install solar panels on the roof of the 200-year old-building. In 2016 the commission said the panels would be too visible and â€śincongruous to the historic aspect of the church and its architectural characteristicsâ€ť and denied permission.
The church sued the town on the grounds climate justice is a key principal of the Unitarian Universalist faith. In August, the state ordered the town to grant the church permission to install the panels.
Among the other articles on the docket, residents will be asked to approve the appropriation of $426,265 for schematic design and construction documents for additions and improvements to the John Glenn Middle School. A separate article asks for $126,000 for schematic design and construction documents for improvements and additions to Bedford High School.
Town Meeting is asked to rezone four properties on Middlesex Turnpike to create a consistent industrial neighborhood, following up on previous rezoning that eliminated a general business district in the area.
An amendment to the zoning map would rezone property currently occupied by Zwickerâ€™s skate shop from a limited business district to a residence A district, as it is completely surrounded by residential uses. While Zwickerâ€™s could continue to operate as a business indefinitely, the town could consider whether the site should continue as retail in future or evolve into residential use.
Town meeting is asked to reconfirm a property tax surcharge of 3 percent of annual real property tax toward the Community Preservation Fund. The town will receive matching funds from the state, in an amount currently estimated at 12 percent next year.
Residents will be asked to appropriate funds from the land acquisition fund, using tax levy funds and Community Preservation funds.
Town meeting is asked to appropriate $25,717 for Bedford Police Supervisors Association for services rendered during fiscal year 2019, for a three-year collective bargaining agreement beginning July 1, 2018.