Arlington Redevelopment Board - Aug 12th, 2019

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Permit 3348: 833 Massachusetts Ave. The applicant is Poyant Signs, who performs sign installations for CVS. They've applied to replace CVS's signage at 833 Mass Ave. For the most part, it's a change in logo design.

The CVS pharmacy currently has two sets of internally lit channel signs with the old "CVS/Pharmacy" logo. The proposal is to replace these with signs containing the new logo, and to update a number of other signs on the property. The new logo signs will be the same type and construction as the existing ones. The proposal includes the addition of parking signs, which will increase the total amount of signage on the lot.

Rachel Zsembery asks whether the new signs will have individual letters. The fellow from Poyant signs says they'll have individual letters.

Kin Lau asks if the applicant represents CVS pharmacy or the building owner. The fellow from Poyant says he represents both.

Mr. Lau would like the pharmacy owner to come before the board. It sounds like there'd an abandoned house on the pharmacy's property. During CVS's last sign hearing, the owners promised to do something about the house, and that never happened. Mr. Lau would like an explanation as to why that condition was never met.

The fellow from Poyant signs wasn't aware of this.

Board votes (4--0) to continue the hearing on Sept 9th.

Chris Loretti asks how the new signs will be illuminated, and if the illumination will be on all the time. The fellow from Poyant states that the current signs are illuminated with neon bulbs, and the new ones will have LEDs. The times when the lights are on will not change. Mr. Loretti asks the board to revisit the site's landscaping plan; he feels it hasn't been maintained.

Request for Waiver of Special Permit Filing Fee. This agenda items pertains to the application to construct a hotel at 1207--1011 Mass Ave. Andrew Bunnell would like to continue this agenda item until Sept. 9th, so the board can receive information regarding their authority to waive special permit filing fees. Jenny Raitt states that the applicant has already requested a continuance until Oct 21st. The board votes (4--0) to continue this item on Oct 21st, when the proponent comes before the board.

Permit 3604: 108 Summer Street. Foodlink (an Arlington non-profit) purchased the former NAPA auto parts building at 108 Summer street. They'd like to renovate the building and use it for their operations.

One of Foodlink's co-founders provides a summary of the organization. Foodlink was started in 2012. They collect 1,600 pounds of food per week, and distribute it to 38 different organizations that assist the food insecure. These organizations are spread across sixteen communities, but a number of them reside in Arlington. Foodlink has four full-time employees and lots of volunteers.

A representative of Reverse Architecture presents the renovation plans. The building was formerly an auto parts store, and it's basically a simple concrete box. Half of the offices on the second floor will be rented out. Foodlink will use the remaining space on the second floor, and their main operations will be on the first. This includes activities like receiving food, sorting, packaging , and distribution. They intend to make the first floor fully handicapped accessible. They'll add a covered area over the loading dock, which is on the West side of the building, near an MBTA bus stop. A portion of the parking lot will be replaced with permeable pavement; they're also proposing grading work and installation of a retaining wall. The roof will capture drainwater and divert it to a dry well on site. The renovation will add six long-term bicycle parking spaces and four short-term ones. Office tenants will pay a fee for parking.

Foodlink is requesting a parking reduction, from fifteen to eight spaces. They've secured four spaces from Scutra for weekend use. Employee parking will be located on the east side of the building, and the west side will be used for deliveries; it's got enough space to accommodate a 40' box truck.

The applicants expect Foodlink to generate up to two vehicle trips per hour.

Foodlink plans to replace all of the windows on the Summer street side of the building, and add wooden trim. They expect the renovated building to use 80% less energy than the current one. Exterior lighting will be controlled by motion sensors, and they'll add a sign on the front of the building.

Andrew Bunnell thinks the building plans are thoughtful and well done. He'd like to see a transportation demand management plan. The architect notes that the renovated building will have showers, and they plan to provide a bicycle for volunteer use.

Mr. Bunnell asks if Foodlink has made any plans regarding office tenants. Foodlink President DeAnne Dupont says they haven't confirmed any tenants yet. They'd prefer a tenant who served the public, and was interested in sustainability.

Kin Lau asks if the canopies will be lit. Yes, they'll have recessed lighting, activated by motion sensors.

Mr. Lau notes that some of the trees growing along the bike path are very tall. He asks if that will interfere with their plans to install rooftop solar panels. The architect explained that a solar panel company provided an assessment, and believed the panels would be viable in that location. They'll be mounted low, on the surface of the roof.

Mr. Lau asks a few questions about windows, and if the applicants would consider taking some of the exterior trim from the loading area, and reallocating it to the front of the building.

Rachel Zsembery asks whether most visitors will use the front door or the accessible entrance. The architect says the accessible entrance was intended to ease loading and unloading. Ms. Dupont stated her desire to keep maintenance costs down, which makes her hesitant to put wood trim on the front of the building, where it will be exposed to the weather.

Mr. Lau think the front door needs work; he says it looks more like a side door. David Watson believes that the real business of Foodlink happens on the loading dock; that's how he interprets the design.

Ms. Zsembery suggests a band of wood trim around the front door. She's not trying to drive up costs, but would like to improve the face of the building that's shown to the neighborhood.

The architect says they'd consider painting murals on the outside of the building, at some point in the future. But he agrees to work on the exterior treatments.

Mr. Watson believes the proposed renovation is a big improvement over the auto parts store. He's disappointed that the MBTA wasn't amenable to creating a walkway between the bike path and bus stop. He'd also like to see a TDM plan, and to see the applicants formalize the best way to enter the building from various modes of transit. He appreciates the thought and attention given to bicycle parking. With respect to the request for parking reduction, Mr. Watson notes that the board will need to see a legally enforceable agreement, stating that Foodlink has use of parking spaces at Scutra. Jenny Raitt says the applicant will provide a letter to show the shared parking agreement.

Ms. Zsembery asks if there's a handicapped parking space on the side of the building with the accessible entrance. No, there's not. Ms. Zsembery believes this is something to consider.

Ms. Zsembery asks about exterior lighting. The architect says they're considering solar-controlled exterior lighting.

Mr. Lau suggests that Foodlink obtain a construction easement from the MBTA before starting work, to avoid any surprises.

Mr. Lau asks about driveway width. They lose a foot of width or so at one end of the lot, because the property tapers. There's discussion about designating one of the parking spaces as compact-only.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

Greg Morella (?) suggests that the bus stop on Summer street be moved 100' to the west. He believes that would make more room for delivery trucks.

James Cutter (?) is happy about the project, and looking forward to having Foodlink as his new neighbor. He asks the board to consider a crosswalk between the two MBTA bus stops.

With no more public comment, Mr. Bunnell suggests continuing the hearing on Sept 9th. The architect asks the board to summarize what they're expecting to see. Mr. Lau reiterates their requests for the front door, loading area, and a transportation demand management plan.

Mr. Bunnell asks if they have a landscaping plan. Mr. Lau thinks a few notes on the site plans would be sufficient.

Mr. Watson asks how often trucks will make deliveries to the loading dock. Foodlink expects two deliveries per week, usually between 11:00 and 13:30 on Thursdays.

Ms. Dupont is concerned about how a continuation will affect their construction schedule. Foodlink is leasing space at the Parmenter school, and their lease will expire in January. Mr. Bunnell suggests that the board could incorporate the open items into the order of conditions: the applicant shall provide a transportation demand management plan, work with department staff on the treatment of the front door and loading dock, and provide evidence of parking agreements.

Mr. Lau moves approval, with the conditions as mentioned. Board approves 4--0.

Citizens Open Forum. An attendee asks Erin Zwirko about the presentation slides she was showing. He was wondering if the material came from PDF or from Powerpoint slides. Ms. Zwirko said it was a pdf, shown full-screen.