Arlington Redevelopment Board - Feb 5th, 2018

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Docket 2890 -- 30 Park Avenue. This docket was continued from an earlier hearing. It involves parking space requirements and a proposed expansion of Gold's Gym. I didn't attend the earlier hearings for this docket, but I'll do my best to keep up.

Arlington Coal and Lumber grants the gym use of 9 parking spaces during weekday evenings. There are nine additional spaces available across the street. The gym will draft a memo to members, encouraging them to take other (non-automotive) forms of transit when heading to the gym.

The gym parking lot is accessible from the Minuteman bikeway. The ARB asks if the owners would consider repairing the fence where the bikeway adjoins the parking lot. The owners agreed to do this.

There was discussion of lighting in the gym parking lot. Kin Lau thought the front parking lot was very well lit, and asked if other portions of the lot could be similarly lit. The building owner stated that lights are installed throughout the parking lot, but they'll make efforts to ensure that all of the lights go on at the same time. Right now, different sets of lights are on different timers; it would make more sense to synchronize them with a solar switch.

Although informal, the parking arrangements with Arlington Coal and Lumber have been in place for about 25 years. The lumber yard allows gym members to park after hours. The gym provides free memberships to employees of the lumberyard.

There's discussion about whether to tie the parking reduction to shared parking arrangements, or to the gym's TDM program. The gym owners seem to prefer tying the parking arrangement to circumstances that they can control over the long term. (e.g., if the lumber yard were to close, they might lose access to shared parking).

Parking reduction approved, with conditions.


Docket 3557 -- 167A Mass Ave. This was perhaps the shortest environmental design review I've ever seen. The business owners at 167A Mass Ave would like to replace the sign in front of their storefront. The change is subject to EDR because it affects a business district on Massachusetts Avenue.

The proposed sign looked nice, and the board liked it. EDR special permit approved.


Report to Special town Meeting, re: Recodification. The ARB's report contains a summary of the warrant article and the recodification process as a whole. The report tries to address two things in particular: what constitutes a policy change, and the motivation for moving administrative information about the permitting process to board regulations.

Dave Watson: We've had three out of four neighborhood meetings. The last meeting takes place Wednesday night. We did consider arguments raised during these meetings.

Jenny Raitt has prepared a point-by-point list of resident concerns raised during the recodification, along with statements explaining how each concern was addressed.

Eugene Benson: Could the ARB report provide an opening highlight -- like a statement of purpose?

David Watson: Do we have an up-to-date 1--2 page summary that could be provided to town meeting members? Jenny says we do. Mr. Watson believes the short summary should be distributed with the ARB report.

Jenny Raitt provided the board with eight minor amendments: three from the ZRWG and five from a citizen's group.

Mark (from 175 Pleasant Street): Mark would like to request a change to section 5.3.13. He doesn't believe that minor accessory buildings should be exempt from front yard setbacks.

There's discussion about 6.18 of the current ZBL, and whether it exempts minor accessories from front yard setbacks. The wording is ambiguous but the exemption seems to be there. 6.18 says "an accessory building such as a doghouse or toolshed shall be exempt from the preceding dimensional regulations if said building dimensions result in a floor area of not more than 80 square feet and a building height of not more than seven feet". The "preceding dimensional regulations" in this section cover front, side, and rear yards.

What would be affected if the front setback regulation were struck? Things like a kids playhouse in the front yard, or a doghouse in the front yard. Or any kind of small accessory building in front of a house.

Andrew Bunnell suggests referring the matter to the residential study group.

The board adds a ninth amendment. A few days ago, a neighborhood meeting attendee pointed out a typo in section 5.7.3. There's a reference to Section 5.8 and the reference should be to Section 5.7. I reported this to the board last week, and asked them to consider issuing an amendment to correct the typo. The board agreed to do this.

The board votes 5-0 in favor of adopting the nine amendments.

The board votes to approve their report to special town meeting, as amended.


Moving administrative rules to board regulations. One of the recodification goals is to move administrative rules (e.g., what to submit with a special permit application) from the ZBL into board regulations.

David Watson suggests that the ARB adopts the rules that currently appear in the ZBL as the board's first set of regulations. This will allow the ARB to continue operating under the same set of rules, if the recodification is passed by town meeting.

Christian Klein: The ZBA recently adopted ZBL rules as their first set of regulations. They'll remain in place until the ZBA can draft and adopt new or additional regulations.

Eugene Benson: If we (the ARB) adopt the current ZBL rules, what about cross-references? We'd have to go back and correct the references, so they refer to the appropriate section of the recodified ZBL.

Jenny Raitt suggests stating this intent in the ARB report to special town meeting. She will also note that the ZBA has done the same thing.

The ARB moves to amend their report to special town meeting.

The ARB moves to adopt their report, as amended.


Approval of Prior Minutes. The board votes to approve minutes from Jan 5th.