During the public comment segment of the October 10, 2019 Town Council meeting, resident and developer William Greiner gave some unsolicited “advice” to the Council.
There has been a lot of disinformation surrounding the “workforce housing” law. As an informed group, we had already consulted with the legislature who advised us that the law, which was intentionally written loosely, ultimately gives the town the final say in how they wish to proceed on any building project. Mr. Greiner himself was once asked, “if no developer is around that is willing or able to build apartments that could contain “workforce housing”, what would happen?” His response of record was — “Nothing”. He was absolutely correct. The state is not going to sue a town because they didn’t have any proposals from developers looking to build projects that contained “workforce housing”.
That said, if you watched the October 7 Planning Board meeting, (see our write-up here) you would have learned that the two most recent building proposals presented to the board had nothing whatsoever to do with “workforce housing”. For the Market and Main project, developers wanted to change their previously proposed plans of space for offices, retail, restaurant and a cinema to 300 apartments which is NOT allowed under current zoning laws passed in March 2019. Neither project would comply, nor included plans for any “workforce housing”. Therefore, Mr. Greiner’s supposed concern with workforce housing laws, as well as his past and current fear-mongering about causing a “pandora’s box” of apartments are not applicable.
Despite this fact, Mr. Greiner continued to suggest in a quasi authoritative-sounding manner, that the Town Council might “educate” the community about the “workforce housing” law.
Even if the two proposals we heard on October 7th had contained plans for workforce housing, it would have no bearing on whether the projects complied with Bedford’s zoning laws.
He suggested that the Planning Board adhere to planning regulations. We agree. Hundreds of apartments will NOT be “on track to happen”, as he has stated. In fact, they cannot happen if the Planning Board abides by the current law.
Current zoning laws were crafted specifically to protect the rampant proliferation of apartments, and that is exactly what they do. The authors of the amendments were not reckless or ill-informed, or as Mr. Greiner accused, on any sort of “vendetta”. In fact, the amendments were deemed 100% legal, otherwise they would not have been approved by the town for placement on the ballot.
Mr. Greiner suggested the Town craft “better zoning laws” that are “consistent with the state law”. However, there is no state law that requires towns to change their zoning to accommodate more apartments. Towns are merely asked to allow opportunities for workforce housing wherever apartments are allowed to be built. And where they are allowed to be built, and in what numbers, is for the legislative body of the town (the voters) to decide.
As we have said many times before, we care little about how much a person pays for their unit because it has no bearing on the issue. Controlling the amount of units that can be built, NOT their cost, is why the zoning amendments were written. The whole “workforce housing” issue is a moot question at this point. Yet Mr. Greiner continues to conflate the two issues.
At this point we were not quite sure why Mr. Greiner continued to give this contradictory speech. Taking shots at the individuals responsible for saving Bedford from his “pandora’s box” was not lost on us, nor was his suggestion that we, who were advised by the Planning Board itself, had no idea what we were doing.
One cannot advocate for something while at the same time, warn against it, all the while blaming others for it, especially when the ones being blamed actually did what it took to stop it. As usual, Mr. Greiner’s attempt to sound like the voice of authority made no sense to any thinking person.