Arlington Redevelopment Board - Feb 7th, 2022
Meeting held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1515}.
Zoning Warrant Article Public Hearing schedule for 2022 Annual Town Meeting
The board reviews a draft legal notice and hearing schedule for this year's warrant articles.
(Jenny Raitt, Planning Director) Ms. Raitt explains that this is a draft of a legal notice that will be sent to newspapers and posted in town hall. Ms. Raitt reviews the articles scheduled for each of the four hearing dates.
(Rachel Zsembery, ARB Chair) Ms. Zsembery asks members of the board for feedback.
(Kin Lau, ARB) Mr. Lau thinks the schedule is fine. He notes that last year, the ARB asked the Select Board for support on certain articles, and he thinks support is more valuable than feedback. He'd like to get comments too. He asks if the ARB will have a few days to digest the contents of these articles, before the hearings take place.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says she's asked the citizen petitioners for materials and draft main motions, and the department is currently collecting them. She'd like to have as much as possible for posting on Feb 17th. That should give the board at least a week to review the articles.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau asks how we'll handle cases where a petitioner is asked to amend their article.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery suggests bringing the petitioners back on March 28th, as fewer hearings are scheduled for that night.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says that's exactly what the board has done in prior years -- bringing the petitioners back to discuss changes near the end of the hearing schedule. Ms. Raitt doesn't know if there will be any special permit hearings in March. There may be.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery recalls DPCD's article memos from prior years; the board will have them as a resource.
(Eugene Benson, ARB) Mr. Benson thinks the schedule is fine, but he'd like to get main motions as soon as possible. We wasn't clear if there'd be a joint ARB/Select Board meeting to discuss the articles, or if just the chairs would get together.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says the meeting will consist of herself, (Town Manager) Adam Chapdelaine, (Town Counsel) Doug Heim, and the two board chairs. She believes feedback will be delivered by memorandum.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery thinks we could collect some information now, regarding which articles ARB members would like the Select Board to review.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson would like to get the Select Board's opinion on the two-family by-right article; he thinks it might be controversial. Others are Enhanced Business Districts, Solar Energy Systems, and increasing FAR. He's not sure what the Appeals article is.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery asks if Mr. Benson has any thoughts on the ZBA-submitted articles.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson thinks the ZBA articles are straightforward, but we may want to check with (ZBA Chair) Christian Klein.
(Melisa Tintocalis, ARB) With respect to input, Ms. Tintocalis asks if it's normal to ask for feedback from other boards.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says the ARB's done this in the past. Sometimes articles are interconnected with town bylaws, and the Select Board can lend expertise that they have.
(Steve Revilak, ARB) Mr. Revilak also thinks the schedule is fine. There are a few articles where he'd like to see feedback from the Select Board. One is two-family homes by right; Mr. Revilak expects that article to generate a robust debate. The second is Appeals, since it seems to have financial and human resources components. Finally, Mr. Revilak would like to see what the Select Board thinks about the map amendment article to expand the business districts. He believes the Select Board is interested in commercial growth and vitality, and expanding the business districts falls into that vein.
That said, Mr. Revilak doesn't want his list to be seen as limiting. Select Board members may be interested in other articles and he welcomes whatever feedback they have to offer
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery notes that there may be Select Board articles where members of the ARB might want to weigh in.
All of the ARB members have related committee assignments. The purpose of this agenda item is to provide board members with an opportunity to give updates.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau serves on the Community Preservation Act (CPA) Committee. The recently heard 13 requests for CPA funds. There aren't enough funds to fill every request; next month the committee will have to figure out what to do about that. Mr. Lau notes that CPA funds are used for open space, historical preservation, and affordable housing -- all worthwhile causes.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson is a member of the Zoning Bylaw Working Group. During their Feb 2nd meeting, most of the discussion focused on Pam Heidell's memo about zoning for flood resilience. The memo looked at zoning changes other communities have made, or are considering. We might be able to propose something in a year, and we may need to re-map the flood zones. He expects this to be a work in progress.
(Melisa Tintocalis) Ms. Tintocalis sits on the Master Plan Implementation Committee. She believes she may have missed their last meeting.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says that the Master Plan Implementation Committee is scheduled to meet on February 17th. The committee hasn't met since last April.
(Melisa Tintocalis) Ms. Tintocalis is relieved that she didn't miss the meeting after all.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak is also a member of the Zoning Bylaw Working Group, and would like to add a few words to Mr. Benson's summary. Defining the flood plain overlay district will be a challenge in itself. One approach is to take storm and precipitation models, and try to map out areas that may be prone to flooding based on the model data. Another approach is to base the flood plain overlay on the 0.2% risk area (aka 500-year flood plain) rather than the 1% risk area (aka 100-year flood plain).
Mr. Revilak is the ARB designee to the Housing Plan Implementation Committee. At the last meeting, HPIC approved the Housing Production Plan by a vote of 3--1.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery is a member of the Economic Recovery Task Group. They've been having discussion on streamlining the processes for establishing new businesses and changing existing ones.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says this is an important task. Prior to Arlington's zoning recodification, the town held an all-board's meeting, and streamlining the permitting process was raised as a priority. This effort will require funding and staffing, and DPCD is hiring a project manager to work on the effort.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery also serves on the Arlington Heights Action Plan Committee. They're planning to focus on signage, and getting businesses to adapt to current sign regulations. They're also focused on adding bicycle parking in the heights. Finally, the brick sidewalks have posed a maintenance challenge.
Ms. Zsembery provides an update on the Remote Participation Study Committee. They're exploring how to conduct hybrid meetings. They recently gave an update to the Select Board, and will provide a report to Town Meeting. The first focus is figuring out what it would take to support hybrid meetings for the most active boards in town, and they'll recommend a pilot program for several boards. They're working out the parameters for the pilot program.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau wishes to give an update on his work with the Marijuana Study Committee. They approved the town's last dispensary site, and are being disbanded.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says a marijuana license was granted to Calyx Peak.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak is glad to see an effort to streamline permitting processes. He attended the all boards meeting where that topic was discussed. The complexity of our permitting process is what motivated him to get involved in the zoning recodification effort.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery notes that there are ARB-appointed members on the Open Space and Recreation Committee, and the Envision Arlington Standing Committee. She'd like to have them appear before the ARB at some point, to provide updates on what those committees are doing.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt thinks it would be appropriate to have a report from the ARB designee to the Open Space committee. They're working on an Open Space and Recreation Plan, which will come before the ARB for approval.
(Kelly Lynema, Assistant Planning Director) Ms. Lynema thinks that a draft of the Open Space and Recreation Plan will be ready in May.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson asks if there's a staff liaison for the Open Space committee.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says it's David Morgan, the town's environmental planner.
Approval of Minutes
The board amends and approves minutes from their Jan 3rd meeting, 5--0.
There's one member of the public who wishes to speak.
(Don Seltzer) As we begin to discussion warrant articles, Mr. Seltzer thinks it's important to have an accurate count of Arlington's housing. He says there are over 20,000 households in town; only 39% are single-family homes, and only 1,300 acres are devoted to single-family zones. He feels that Barrett Consulting mis-classified the number of single-family homes in the Housing Production Plan. He says he's written to the board about this, and had additional discussions with Mr. Revilak. He notes that there are over 600 single-family homes in the two family district, and invites the board to judge the cost of ones that are being rebuilt.
(Note: based on my discussions with Mr. Seltzer (mentioned above), I think the disagreement is mostly about definitions. The Housing Production Plan cites a single-family home percentage from US Census data. The Census definition of "single-family" includes both attached and detached homes, and Mr. Seltzer disagrees with including the attached ones. Mr. Seltzer disputes the amount of acreage devoted to our single-family districts, because those districts include municipal buildings, churches, and cemeteries.)