Arlington Redevelopment Board - Apr 29th, 2024

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Meeting held at 27 Maple Street. Materials were available from

Ms. Korman-Houston was unable to attend tonight's meeting.

(Rachel Zsembery, ARB Chair) Ms. Zsembery outlines the timeline for tonight's meeting. We will be adjourning at 7:30 pm so that members of the Board can attend Town Meeting. The board will take public comment on Special Town Meeting Article 3 until 7:30 pm.

Review Meeting Minutes

The board approves minutes from their April 1, 2024 and April 8, 2024 meetings, 4--0.

Supplemental ARB Report to Town Meeting

The supplemental report amends the Board's recommended main motion for Article 28, Inland Wetland District.

(Claire Ricker, Planning Director) Ms. Ricker says the supplemental report contains an additional proposed change to the Zoning Bylaw: removing the Inland Wetland District from the list of districts in Section 4.1.2.

The board approves the supplemental report, 4--0.

Warrant Article for 2024 Special Town Meeting

This is a public hearing for Special Town Meeting Article 3: Amendment of Zoning Map Adopting the Multi-Family Housing Overlay Districts and Amendment of Zoning Bylaw.

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker says this article was inserted by the Redevelopment Board, at the request of the Department of Planning and Community Development and Town Counsel. The Attorney General's office notified the town about the original MBTA Communities vote, in Article 12 from last October's Special Town Meeting. The AG felt we did not vote appropriately on the map, and have recommended that town meeting take another vote to adopt it. The warrant article is only about the map, and it's the same map that was presented to Town Meeting last fall.

(Eugene Benson, ARB) Mr. Benson asks for confirmation that it's the same map and parcel list that we had last October.

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker answers in the affirmative.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment. She'll take note of questions, and the board will answer them at the end.

(Wynelle Evans) Ms. Evans says she understands that Article 12 from the Special Town Meeting wasn't approved by the Attorney General. She asks how the bylaw can be amended before it's approved.

(Amy Goldstein) Ms. Goldstein thinks that the entire article should be re-voted, if it wasn't done correctly last time.

(Mike Tarrantino) Mr. Tarrantino asks why the B1 district is constantly being overlooked. He knows several owners of B1 properties, and they fell like they're being left behind.

(Mary Ruddy) Ms. Ruddy is an abutter to the Neighborhood Multifamily District. She requests a change in how far the district goes up Bartlett Ave. She thinks the district extends further than it should.

(Ian Shin) Mr. Shin is in favor of the upzoning. He asks why some areas of Mass Ave were only zoned as Neighborhood Multifamily.

(Hardeep Singh) Mr. Singh owns 89 Everett Street, and his parents own a house in the overlay district. They're retired, so the only way they could take advantage of the new zoning is by demolishing their house and rebuilding. He says his parents won't be able to do that. He doesn't think this will benefit the community, and says that what we do here will be obsolete at some point.

(Amy Goldstein) Ms. Goldstein thinks that precinct 14 has borne the brunt of the change, which goes quite a way down side streets. She thinks people don't know this is happening, and people weren't aware of it at precinct meetings. She thinks the process was rushed, so that Arlington could participate in the fossil fuel-free pilot program. She thinks we need a more comprehensive look at the process.

(Grant Cook) Mr. Cook says he attended lots of the MBTA Communities Working Group meetings. He thinks it's proper to fix an error we made in the process. He doesn't want Arlington to be like Milton. He thinks the rezoning is an exciting precursor to redoing the zoning in the Heights. He says the MBTA Communities zoning was a collection of compromises that we made in order to meet a mandate from the state.

(Mike Cunningham, Town Counsel) Mr. Cunningham says we cannot change the district that was voted on by last October's Special Town Meeting. He says the Attorney General's specific gripe was our failure to amend the district list in Section 4.1.2, and the AG had no reservations about the districts themselves. He says we can still pursue changes in the future, and the AG's concern was limited to the map. Mr. Cunningham says that the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC) has made a determination that the district is suitable.

(Rachel Zsembery, ARB Chair) Ms. Zsembery says there was a lot of talk about spreading the district throughout the town.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak summarizes how we arrived at the map that was presented to town meeting last fall. The district is centered around Arlington's two main corridors: Mass Ave and Broadway. It has taller buildings on the corridors, similar to what's there today. It tapers down in height to the Neighborhood Multifamily District, and then down again to the existing 2.5 story buildings. There are no commercial parcels included in the district. This is why we only have Neighborhood Multifamily along Mass Ave in Arlington. The board would like to revisit the commercial zoning in that area, and we didn't want to rezone the same properties twice within a few years. The districts in East Arlington are skinnier than the ones in the heights because East Arlington has two corridors instead of one.

(Hardeep Singh) Mr. Hardeep says he didn't see traction for the idea of changing the zoning throughout the whole town. He says that mathematically, it would make sense to look at where there's the most space, and put the district there.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak says that the state legislature passed the MBTA Communities Act because we have a housing shortage, and much of this is because communities around Boston haven't allowed enough housing to be built. The state is giving us a requirement to loosen up those rules -- they're not telling us how, but they are telling us how much. None of the property owners in this district are required to make any changes, and nothing will will get built until individual property owners allow it. Mr. Revilak says that new homes in this district will be like the ones they replace, in the sense that a builder will build them, the new homes will be sold to families, and lived in by different families after that.

(Gerald ?) Gerald has a six-figure salary. He says that rents aren't very affordable, even with his income. He thinks we need more competition in the rental market, and that it makes sense to put new housing near bus lines.

(Mindy Garber) Ms. Garber says she lives in the overlay district and plans to stay in her house. She wishes there was a way to tell developers "don't bother me, I'm not interested in selling".

There are no further comments from the public.

(Eugene Benson, ARB) Mr. Benson says part of the goal was to put more housing near Mass Ave and Broadway, near buses and shops. That would let people make some trips on foot, and result in less driving. He says the state required large contiguous districts of several acres each. The Attorney General says our bylaw was okay, but we need to re-do the vote on the map. EOHLC has informed us that the district is compliant.

The board votes to recommend favorable action on Special Town Meeting article 3, 4--0

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says that a draft report to special town meeting will be posted on Thursday. On Monday, we'll vote on whether to adopt the report.

New Business

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker says that Conservation Planner David Morgan wrote a memo to town meeting regarding Article 28, which is posted on the annotated warrant.

Board members express their gratitude to Mr. Morgan for drafting the memo.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery asks about the timing for a joint meeting of the ARB and Select Board.

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker says she has to confer with the Select Board's office, but it may be possible to have a joint meeting in June.

Meeting adjourned.