The Planning Board last week approved a site plan for alterations to a building at 40 Middlesex Turnpike with a focus on safety.
Indeed, the three-story, 72,000-square-foot office building will house two undisclosed federal government agencies under a 15-year lease. FD Stonewater recently purchased the property from Aware, Inc.
The site plan includes several proposed improvements, including an eight-foot security fence, changes to the parking lot layout, a covered driveway and a loading dock.
There is currently access from the Middlesex Turnpike and applicants were asked to consider adding pedestrian access. The property also has secondary access to a common driveway at 36 Middlesex Tpke., which the applicant has proposed to close.
Stonewater representative Zachary Richards stressed the importance of security given that the building will be leased by several government agencies.
He reported that Stonewater explained these concerns to the Bedford Fire Department and worked to create access routes that would maintain project security while allowing emergency access. Richards also pointed to the addition of a new storm drain to increase drainage.
Jacinda Barbehenn, a member of the Planning Board, expressed concern about security levels and asked which agencies would be tenants in the building. Council Chairman Steven Hagan explained that the council is not authorized to ask which agencies are or what work they will be engaged in, given the security implications.
Planning Director Tony Fields noted that council does not have the power to reject the project because it is under federal control, but council can make suggestions.
Barbehenn was concerned that the proposed eight-foot fence would intimidate residents. The council recommended adding shrubs to the exterior of the fence to create a more pleasing aesthetic. Stonewater representative Heather Howard clarified that the public walkways will remain in place, but the parking lot will be secure and closed to the public.
Richards explained that Stonewater is currently working to provide additional lighting in the parking lot. The layout plan further provides for the striping of the parking lot, including several handicapped spaces along the facade of the building.
Stonewater representatives have agreed to consider joining the Middlesex 3 Coalition. This organization website says its members, in towns abutting Route 128 and the state line, “include local government, business, finance, education and development actors who have combined their resources to promote the competitive advantages of the region and advance the economic vitality of the corridor. ”