Arlington Redevelopment Board - Apr 27th, 2022
Meeting held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1581.
Docket 3690 - 34 Dudley Street
This is a continued hearing for Docket 3690. The applicant, Premier Storage Investors, is proposing to construct a self-storage facility at 34 Dudley St, in one of Arlington's industrial districts.
(Rachel Zsembery, ARB Chair) Ms. Zsembery introduces the docket and outlines the order of speakers and presentations.
(Robert Annese, Attorney for the Applicant) Mr. Annese says the applicants have made substantial changes since the last hearing. He reminds the board that this is an industrial district.
(Eric Gerade, Civil Engineer) Mr. Gerade shows a list of the areas where they've made changes. He believes these have enhanced the project.
(Jesse Morgan, Premier Storage) Mr. Morgan says that Premier Storage was founded in 2013. So far, they've acquired 55 facilities and still own 29 of them. All of these are still operating as self-storage facilities.
In terms of building security, each customer will have their own unique access code, and there will be numerous cameras installed on the premises. The dumpster will not be for customer use. It will be locked in an enclosure, with a security camera to monitor it.
For truck traffic, the largest truck that the site would accommodate is 26', which is the largest size available from U-Haul. Mr. Morgan notes that his team had said 24' at the last hearing, but it's actually 26'. Larger vehicles will not be permitted on the site. Mr. Morgan says this will be enforced with a combination of verbal and electronic communication. Customers that violate this rule will be in violation of their lease agreement and subject to termination.
(Eric Gerade) Mr. Gerade says they've made a 2,800 square foot reduction to the building area on the first floor, in order to accommodate the additional parking spaces. This has allowed them to have more green space at the rear of the property, near Mill Brook. They're proposing a total of 23 parking spaces. They've added pedestrian amenities at the front of the building, and moved some of the bicycle parking there as well. They've also moved the ADA parking space next to the front door.
Mr. Gerade says they've used NOAA14+ precipitation data in their stormwater calculations. On the westerly side of the property, stormwater will be collected in a swale and treated in a raingarden. Changing the building size will allow them to preserve two clusters of trees near the rear of the property. They will extend the fence, as Mr. Lau had requested during the last hearing, and there will be plantings on the Mill Brook side.
(Matt Kealey, Traffic) Mr. Kealey says the proposed use will generate less traffic than the existing use. He believes that seasonality will have no impact on the conclusion of their study, which was based on ITE data. He says the added parking will ensure that customers don't have to park on Dudley street, and notes that the auto repair shop uses Dudley street extensively for parking.
(Jan Bryan, Architect) Mr. Bryan explains how they've increased the amount of articulation on the front facade and changed the exterior surface. They've added windows in the front, reduced the amount of signage, and are proposing three 18' x 42' screened panels on the rear. Mr. Bryan says they've made a commitment to solar and are currently looking at how the roof area would be used. They haven't detailed the rooftop solar on the plans, because they're still figuring it out. They've also changed the color of the rain leaders to help with the articulation of the facade.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery thanks the applicants for being responsive to the board's requests.
(Jenny Raitt, Planning Director) Ms. Raitt agrees that the applicants have been responsive and she believes they've addressed a number of issues that were raised at the last hearing. The Planning Department's memo noted the lack of detail for the solar installation, but that's been discussed already. She says there's still a question about stormwater, and notes the proposal is still undergoing review with the Conservation Commission.
(Kin Lau, ARB) Mr. Lau says he has no issues with the exterior gutters. He thinks they help break up the scale of the facade, but hopes they could be better integrated with the facade design. He also appreciates the fence along the back. He notes the changes to parking. Mr. Lau believes the signage is better, with the exception of the monument sign. He thinks that type of sign is more suitable for buildings in a rural setting, or along a highway. He asks the applicants to consider eliminating it. Overall, Mr. Lau is supportive of the project. With a few more tweaks, he thinks we're there.
(Eugene Benson, ARB) Mr. Benson appreciates the commitment to solar, and he looks forward to seeing what it is. He asks about the type of material that will be used for the fencing.
(Eric Gerade) Mr. Gerade says it will be a wooden stockade fence.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson notes the earlier remarks about lease agreements. He asks if the maximum truck size will be part of the lease.
(Pete Williams, Premier Storage) Mr. Williams indicates that it will.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson believes that will be a good thing to have in the lease agreement, along with a restriction on parking on Dudley Street. Mr. Benson asks why the office sign will be illuminated.
(Pete Williams) Mr. Williams says they want people to know what the building is, and where to go. He believes the sign will call attention to the office area.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson asks whether it's necessary for that sign to be illuminated.
(Pete Williams) Mr. Williams says it's not a necessity, but they'd prefer to have it illuminated. He believes the illumination is more visible in the winter time, when it gets dark at 4:00 pm.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson notes that our bylaw only allows illuminated signs when the board finds it's in the public interest.
(Melisa Tintocalis, ARB) Ms. Tintocalis says she's struggling with the use, and disappointed with the proposal. She wants to go on record as stating that she doesn't believe that a self-storage facility fits in here.
(Steve Revilak, ARB) Mr. Revilak notes that the renderings show a wave style bike rack in the front of the building. He asks the applicants to consider inverted-U racks, because they do a better job at supporting bicycles.
Mr. Revilak asks if someone can describe how a 26' truck would enter a site, back up to the loading dock, and exit.
(Eric Gerade) Mr. Gerade explains the turning maneuvers.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak asks what transportation demand management elements they're planning to use.
(Jesse Morgan) Mr. Morgan says they're planning to have covered bicycle parking, stipends for transit use, and a preferred car pool parking space.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says she's struggling with the rain leaders. She'd prefer to see them integrated into the facade design, rather than just running over top of the facade. She suggests trying to integrate them with the facade articulation, and suggests that might influence the treatment on the opposite side of the building.
The chair opens the hearing to public comment.
(Don Seltzer) Mr. Seltzer says that several members of the disability commission appreciated the relocation of the accessible parking space. He asks if the applicants can speak to the patterns of building egress. He asks "what is a 26' truck", and states that the 26' represents the size of the cargo area and not the full length of the vehicle. He believes the columns along the drive isle are too narrow for a truck to get through. He states that this building will affect the solar exposure of several adjacent properties.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says we won't be covering egress routes; that's under the jurisdiction of the building inspector, and not the redevelopment board.
(Ann Leroyer) Ms. Leroyer is concerned about the size and massing of the building, and the fact that it's near to Wellington Park and the Mill Brook. She thinks the fencing and landscaping is good, but is concerned about the panels on the rear of the building. She says they looked reflective on the renderings; Ms. Leroyer thinks that reflective panels will cause problems. Regarding stormwater management and raingardens, Ms. Leroyer will look to what the Conservation Commission decides. She understands that a building of this size is allowed, but she doesn't think it's ideal.
(Thomas Falwell) Mr. Falwell is an attorney who's representing the owner of 26 Dudley St. He says that a 26' foot truck can mean different things to different people. He's also unsure about whether such a truck could navigate Dudley street. He asks if fill will be necessary in the rear of the property, and if so, how much. He questions whether stormwater will really be treated on site, and says that shadows are another issue. He asks if the applicants are planning to do work on town-owned land, and notes they'll need permission to do so.
There are no further comments from the public.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery asks for an update on the truck turning radius, and for more information on the panels.
(Eric Gerade) Mr. Gerade says they ran calculations to verify that a truck would have enough room to navigate in and out, even with cars parked directly across the street. He says they can work on signage to indicate that trucks larger than 26' are not allowed.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery asks about the panels on the rear of the building.
(Jon Bryan) Mr. Bryan says the panels aren't reflective. They're a small grid plastic material with images drawn on them. He says they're not reflective in any manner.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says she'd like to have a sample of the material. She asks about need for fill at the rear of the site.
(Eric Gerade) Mr. Gerade says they're planning to add fill at the rear of the site, with a depth of 12--18". He says the first floor elevation of the storage facility will be comparable to that of the building next door.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau says he's hoping we can get a continuance. He asks the applicant to provide a turning diagram that shows a truck pulling in and backing up to the dock. He thinks that should resolve the questions about maneuverability. Mr. Lau asks the applicants to take another look at the eastern elevation and the rain leaders. He'd like to see them better integrated into the facade, so they don't look like three vertical lines. He applauds the applicant on their decision to go with mesh screen panels. He asks if they'll be backlit, and whether they'll be mounted directly against the building.
(Jan Bryan) Mr. Bryan says the panels won't be backlit. They'll be mounted a little bit away from the building exterior, for attachment.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson would like to see more details on the solar installation they're planning for the roof.
Mr. Benson recalls that the building will have a 10' x 10' grid system; at the previous hearing, the applicants indicated that this would make the building hard to use for another purpose. He says that bothers him a little, but would like to hear what other board members think.
Mr. Benson says he's gone to Arlington Self Storage a few times since the last hearing, and they have no spaces available to rent. He sees that as a sign that there's a need for this service. He feels that the Conservation Commission will do a thorough stormwater review.
(Melisa Tintocalis) Ms. Tintocalis has no further questions. Regarding Mr. Benson's question about the building being able to be used for a different purpose, Ms. Tintocalis says that it's common to build for particular uses these days.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson says he was just raising the question. For example, if the facility went out of business and became abandoned.
(Melisa Tintocalis) Ms. Tintocalis says that does bother her, but special purpose buildings are a trend we're seeing.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak asks the applicants to consider having a shower for employees, instead of the car pool parking space. He believes that will be a much better amenity for employees. He agrees with Mr. Lau's request for a turning diagram.
Mr. Revilak says he's fine with the building being constructed for a special purpose. He says the applicants are about to make a significant investment, and he assumes they'll want to stay in business for a long time.
He asks how large of a rainfall event the stormwater system will be able to contain completely on site.
(Eric Gerade) Mr. Gerade says they're goal is to have a ten-year storm produce less flow than a two-year storm produces at the current site. He arrived at this convention after working with the town's engineer.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak says he's read the stormwater report, and noticed the flow reductions. He says that's commendable.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau says he's okay with the applicants constructing a special purpose building.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says her office is in a building that used to be used for cold storage, and there are a lot of columns in interesting places. She believes it's possible to do unique repurposing of buildings.
Ms. Zsembery reviews the list of thinks the board is asking the applicant to provide. These include:
- Integrating the rain leaders with the facade
- Consider eliminating the monument sign
- Consider eliminating illumination from the office sign
- Use inverted U bicycle racks, rather than wave racks
- Provide a turning diagram for a 26' truck
- Provide a materials sample of the mesh screen
- Provide information on the rooftop solar array
- Consider a shower rather than a carpool space as part of their TDM plan
- A rendering of the images that will be printed on the panels
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt asks for clarification about the material sample.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says she'd like to see the proposed image, along with an actual sample of the screening material.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says she'd also like to see a limit of work diagram that shows the boundaries of town-owned land.
The board discusses when to schedule the continued hearing.
There's a motion to continue the hearing to May 16th. Materials for the hearing should be submitted by May 11th. Motion passes, 5--0.
The board adjourns to town meeting.