Arlington Redevelopment Board - Aug 28th, 2023

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Hybrid meeting held in the Select Board Chambers. Materials were available from

Review Meeting Minutes

The board approved minutes from their July 10 and July 24, 2023 meetings.

Docket 3760 - 1306--1308 Mass Ave

This special permit is for a change of use. 1306--1308 Mass Ave was purchased by a roofing company, who'd like to turn it into office and showroom space.

(Applicant) The applicant's designer says that 522 square feet of the building will be devoted to retail and the rest will be used for offices. The building will be remodeled, but there's no structural work involved. The office will be handicapped accessible, with two accessible bathrooms.

(Claire Ricker, Planning Director) Ms. Ricker says the special permit is for a change of use to an office of more than 3000 square feet. There's new signage associated with the project, but the applicant has not submitted a complete sign package. The office use would normally require seven parking spaces, but there are no parking spaces associated with this building, and no opportunity for the owner to add new ones. They'll also be required to provide two short-term and two long-term bicycle parking spaces.

(Kin Lau, ARB) Mr. Lau asks if the applicants own the building.

(Applicant) One of the applicants answers in the affirmative; they bought the building.

(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau says there's a patio in back of the building which tends to collect water and turn into a moat. He asks about their plan for that area.

(Applicant) One of the applicants says they're planning to clean it up, and to reinforce the retaining wall if necessary.

Another of the applicants says they'd like to enhance the area, and to provide support for cyclists.

(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau notes a side door on sheet A.104. He asks if the door will be infilled.

(Applicant) The applicant answers in the affirmative.

(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau suggests keeping it as a second means of egress.

(Applicant) The applicants say they'll consider this.

(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau supports the application, noting that this storefront has been vacant for a long time. He asks how often workers trucks will visit the office.

(Applicant) The applicants have space in Malden, which is where they keep their vehicles and materials. The offices are only for sales. Workers might stop by briefly, but that should be the extent of it.

(Eugene Benson, ARB) Mr. Benson asks if they'll be able to add two long-term bicycle parking spaces inside.

(Applicant) The applicant answers in the affirmative.

(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson suggests working with the town to add short term bicycle parking. He asks if they're planning to use any exterior lighting.

(Applicant) The applicants answer in the negative.

(Steve Revilak, ARB) Mr. Revilak says he's very happy to see the investment the applicants are making, as that building has been vacant for a long time. He notes that there's a bicycle rack near the north-east corner of the building, and asks if they're planning to keep that.

(Applicant) The applicant answers in the affirmative.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak notes that Arlington's sign bylaw has requirements for spacing above and below wall signs. He thinks the sign as shown might not meet those requirements, and suggests centering it vertically in the sign band.

(Rachel Zsembery, ARB Chair) Ms. Zsembery is okay with having the sign package approved administratively, if it meets the requirements in the bylaw. She believes there's a slight pitch to the band, so the applicants should submit details about how the sign will be mounted. She suggests using a sign backer to improve legibility.

(Applicant) The applicants say they'll follow this guidance.

The chair opens the hearing for public comment. There are no comments from the public.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery lists a number of potential conditions she's heard from other board members. These include: submitting a complete sign package, adding two long-term bicycle parking spaces in the interior of the building, working with the town to find a location for short-term bicycle parking, and cleaning up the rear of the building, and ensuring the area has proper drainage.

(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson says we'll also need a finding to approve the parking reduction.

Mr. Benson notes that the second page of the applicants submittal checklist was missing the section on site sustainability standards. The same goes for other dockets the board is hearing tonight. Mr. Benson would like to see this addressed in the future.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak asks if the bike rack next to the building would satisfy the requirements for short term spaces.

(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau says that only part of the rack is on the applicant's property.

There's discussion among the board members about short-term bicycle parking.

Permit approved, 4--0.

Docket 3759 - 355 Mass Ave

This permit involves renovations to a small mixed-use building on Mass Ave.

(Seth Morrissey, Architect) Mr. Morrissey says the building is owned by a doctor who runs her practice out of the first floor. She'd like to renovate the upper two stories in order to have more space for her family. A number of additions have been added to the building over time, some of which introduced structural issues that will have to be addressed with these renovations. They'd like to add space on the second floor and clean up some of the rooflines. They're planning to replace windows and clapboard on the first floor, and add a covered porch in the rear. The rear porch will be the main entrance to the residential apartment.

(Claire Ricker, Planning Director) Ms. Ricker says this is a great project. It involves a significant renovation to a mixed-use building. There is no bicycle parking proposed, and there's ample parking on Mass Ave for the medical practice. She believes the roof will be solar-ready, the building is not listed on any historic inventory, and the use has been in place since the 1980s.

(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau has no questions.

(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson asks if the applicant considered providing a bicycle rack for customers.

(Seth Morrissey) Mr. Morrissey says they considered that, but it would require removing part of a retaining wall.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak has no questions.

The chair opens the hearing for public comment. There is none.

(Seth Morrissey) Mr. Morrissey says the owner had to move out of their practice for the renovations. He asks the board if they'd be willing to waive the 20-day appeal period.

(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau tells Mr. Morrissey the board doesn't have the authority to do that. He says the applicants can ask the building inspector to issue a permit early, but work done during the appeals period would be at their risk.

Permit approved, 4--0.

Docket 3752 - 251 Summer St

This docket involves the permitting of a recreational marijuana dispensary by Calyx Peak.

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker says the applicant asked the department to have the hearing continued to October, and she suggested a date of October 2nd. As presented to the Select Board, the dispensary would have occupied the entire building, but now there's a request for two businesses: the dispensary will occupy part of the building; the other part will be office space for the building's owner. The applicant and owner have asked that the special permit hearing be for Calyx Peak, rather than for the owner's office. Ms. Ricker says this configuration has not been before the Select Board, Police Department, or Health and Human Services. However, she believes the board can still review it on its merits.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says the Select Board reviewed an application that involved the full development of the site by Calyx Peak. As a board, we can ask the applicant to go back to the other permitting bodies (i.e., the Select Board, etc.), or we can review the application in its altered state.

(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau thinks the applicants should go back to the Select Board.

(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson doesn't think it's the ARB's decision whether the applicants need to go back to the Select Board, Police Department, and Health and Human Services. He'd like to know whether those bodies think another review is necessary; if they agree that the modified proposal can go forward, he'd be okay with reviewing it. He believes the board will need an updated traffic study, as the one submitted to the Select Board is several years old.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak would like to see if the Select Board, Police Department, and Health and Human Services think the modifications are acceptable. If so, he'd be okay with reviewing the application on its merits.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery asks if the applicants should have to re-apply. She's leaning towards wanting a new application, because of the project changes.

(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau agrees that the applicants should come back with a new application when they're ready. He suggests closing the hearing.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak asks whether we have the authority to withdraw an application on the applicants behalf.

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker says she'll asks the applicant to withdraw.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery motions to ask the applicant to withdrawal.

Motion passes, 4--0.

(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson asks what happens if the applicants don't want to withdraw?

(Rachel Zsembery) In that case, Ms. Zsembery suggests a motion to disapprove, when the time comes.

The board will give the applicants until October 2nd to withdraw.

Open Forum

(Jim Doherty) Mr. Doherty says that three years ago, the board approved his application to build the Hotel Lexington. That was during the COVID pandemic, which had a significant impact on the hospitality industry. He'd like to get on the board's agenda, to discuss an extension of the special permit.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says the intent is to have Mr. Doherty on the agenda for October 2nd, in order to request a continuation.

There are no further speakers for tonight's open forum.

New Business

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker wishes to give the board an update on the Executive Office of Housing and Liveable Communities' updated guidance for MBTA Communities. She and (MBTA Communities Working Group Chair) Sanjay Newton are working on a memo for the working group. Ms. Ricker thinks the bonuses and incentives that the working group developed are suitable. She doesn't see a need to require ground floor commercial, since the proposed multi-family district stays out of the existing business and industrial districts. Mr. Ricker thinks the working group's proposal will help incentivize new commercial development.

(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson though the new guidance wouldn't be helpful for Arlington, but he hasn't seen the latest map. He's interested in having a special permit requirement for the mixed-use bonus, rather than site plan review.

(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau says the working group was thinking of having the bonuses be by right.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery thinks it will be important to see what's being proposed for a site plan review process.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak has a clarifying question for Mr. Benson. He'd like to know if Mr. Benson was thinking of a special permit requirement for all of the bonuses, or just the mixed-use bonus.

(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson says he's probably be okay with site plan review for the affordable housing bonus.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says the board is scheduled to review the full package on September 11th, which is the day the special town meeting warrant opens and closes. She thinks the articles held over from the spring can easily be moved on, but we'll need warrant language for the MBTA Communities zoning.

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker says she's sent in a package for pre-adoption review, and she'll forward copies of this to the board.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says we'll need to ensure that the warrant language is okay, so the entire board doesn't need to vote. She thinks the board can leave out the rezoning of St. Camillus. We'd also talked about removing single- and two-family homes as an allowed use in the business districts, and adding street tree regulations for the residential districts.

The board agrees to authorize Ms. Ricker, Ms. Zsembery, and Mr. Benson to work on the warrant language.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says the ZBA will have a few zoning articles in the spring.

(Claire Ricker) Mr. Ricker says the MBTA Communities Working Group's outreach team put together a postcard that will be mailed to the entire town. That bulk mailing went out this afternoon. The card includes the date of the September 11th hearing. The town is also mailing approximately 4,500 legal notices to property owners.

(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson asks if we'll need to send additional notifications if the ARB changes the map.

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker says the legal notices went out to every property owner in the overlay district, and all abutters within 300'.

Meeting adjourned.