Arlington Redevelopment Board - Jan 22nd, 2018

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This is a continuation of the hearing for the Zoning Recodification Article for Special town meeting.

Jenny Raitt gives a report on happenings since the last ARB hearing. The ZRWG met with two members of the Citizens Group to discuss their concerns about the proposed recodification. We came to an agreement about how to approach what the Citizen's Group perceived as substantive changes to policy. We corrected typos in the table of uses, and tables of dimensional and density regulations. We also restored language that was inadvertently omitted from the hearing draft. A revised hearing draft was released last Thursday. The Citizen's Group provided additional comments last night, and ZRWG members analyzed those comments during the evening.

I (Steve Revilak) reviewed the citizen comments that fell outside of definitions, and sent my review to the ZRWG and Director of Planning. My review document was given to the ARB, and they asked me to come to the podium and go through it point, by point. I was up there for around 30 minutes. The ARB elected to adopt most of my suggested changes. They didn't take my suggestion regarding the wording of "transit" vs. "rapid transit", or the suggestion regarding dormitories. My suggestions are here: Review-of-2018-01-22-citizen-comments.ods

After I finished, the ARB continued to take public comment.

(Wynelle Evans). Ms. Evans notes that she and I are the ones who submitted the most written comments, but neither of us are zoning professionals. She notes that 9.03 Residential Lot of Record was removed, along with a mix of other issues.

(Chris Loretti). Mr. Loretti thanks the board for keeping the hearing open. He believes there are still issues with the proposed recodification. These include the definitions of "Building, Detached", sheds under 80 square feet, the definitions of "Catering" and "Catering Service". Mr. Loretti believes the proposed bylaw doesn't appreciate the difference between principal and accessory uses. The wording used for accessory structures is inconsistent. The recodification misses a distinction between lot width and frontage. Section 8.1.3 is confusing, and there's a potential policy change in 8.1.7(B) that would give new powers to the Zoning Board of Appeals. He believes the tables are hard to follow, and that the town really needs to have a lawyer go through the document. Mr. Loretti thinks that inconsistencies with state law are not an issue, because the Building Inspector knows what not to enforce. He urges the board to vote no action for special town meeting, and bring the article to regular town meeting instead.

Kin Lau asks Mr. Loretti to go into detail about 8.1.7(B), and why he thinks it contains a significant policy change.

Mr. Loretti states that the town's policy is not to continue non-conforming uses; pre-existing non-conformities lose their protected status after two years of abandonment. As written 8.1.7(B) would allow the ZBA to reinstate a non-conformance after two years of abandonment.

(John Worden). Mr. Worden concurs with the previous speakers. He doesn't know what the rush is. He states that this process is important, and it's worth getting right. Mr. Worden would like to have a "real" redline, not the one the ZRWG did. He believes the town deserves a main motion that's 100% correct. He wishes the town didn't try to change the zoning bylaw, and expressed pessimism at getting a two-thirds vote during special town meeting.

Jenny Raitt speaks to removed language, requiring 40B testimony to be taken under oath. The thought was to leave that for ZBA regulations, but the provision could be put back into the bylaw.

Mr. Worden would like to see the uses numbered. He'd like to see section 9.03 restored. Mr. Worden states that he doesn't know what the ARB's agenda is, and he urges them to get the recodification right, so we can work together without being at odds with one another.

(Christian Klein). Mr. Klein acknowledges that there are a number of changes the Citizen's group would like to see. Not all of the requested changes were adopted. That doesn't mean the suggestions were ignored; it means we have a difference of opinion. The ZBA is one of the few boards whose rules are set by a two-thirds vote of town meeting. This is a problem, particularly for some of the archaic rules. 40A gives a ZBA power to make its own regulations. The ZBA is currently working on a set of rules and regulations, which we've never had.

The ZRWG worked on this project for 18 months. Like most projects, 90% of the work gets done in the last 10% of the time. If the warrant article is postponed, I hope that feedback will continue in a timely fashion. It feels like a lot of people had concerns, but waited to share them.

(Marshal Audin). I was a member of the ZBA for ten years, and I agree with their desire to have a say over their rules and regulations. No zoning bylaw can cover every lot; the ZBA's job is to deal with that. The board needs flexibility to deal with unique conditions. As long as their rules and regulations are published.

(John Worden). Mr. Worden would like to make two additional points. First, he's not suggesting that all ZBA regulations have to be in the Zoning Bylaw; he just wants to see the part about 40B testimony being taken under oath. Second, he believes the public comments were timely. Again, what's the rush. Take the time to get it right.

(Nancy Flynn-Barvick). Ms. Flynn-Barvick states that section 9.03 was removed because it just repeated language from 40A.

Jenny Raitt reads emails from Christian Klein and Ralph Wilmer. These pertained to Citizen Group comments received last night, regarding definitions. In "Building, Detached", they suggested changing "structural" to "physical", and adding a definition of "Building Line, Front". The email suggested changing "roof joist" to "roof structure" in section 5.3.22(B). Finally, the email requested clarification on Citizen's Group comments for the definitions of Attic, Awning, Auto Body Shop, Multi-family Dwelling, and a few others. In their emails, Mr. Klein and Mr. Wilmer believed these definitions were okay as-is.

Andrew Bunnell closes the public comment portion of the meeting.

Gene Benson asks where the language in 8.1.7(B) came from. (He's referring to Chris Loretti's earlier statement).

Jenny Raitt says she'll have to get back to him with an answer.

David Watson hasn't had a chance to review the Citizen Group comments, but he was satisfied with my recommendations. There are lots of documents floating around. How do we frame the amended document for approval?

Kin Lau shares Mr. Watson's feelings. He believes all of the Citizen Group issues were addressed, but some changes were not made due to differences of opinion. The comments were addressed, but perhaps not agreed with. He hasn't gone through all of the comments in detail, and is on the fence with how to proceed. I see both points. If you don't start somewhere, you'll never get anywhere.

Andy West. Is the Zoning Recodification working group recommending the changes that Mr. Revilak proposed?

David Watson. The Citizens Group submitted their comments last night, and a few working members responded to them. We have not discussed them as a group.

Andrew Bunnell. I think it would be appropriate to accept Steve and Christian's comments as coming from individuals.

Andy West. Time is getting compressed. Are we able to have a straightforward process?

David Watson. I'm a little confused. We discussed things with the Citizen's Group already, and I thought we were in agreement. Now, I'm hearing that the Citizen's Group believes their concerns weren't met to their expectations.

Jenny Raitt. Section 8.1.7(B) came from two other sections. Also, I have not tried to clean up the table headings yet. I wanted to wait until all of the changes were in.

David Watson. Modern practice is not to number uses in the table of uses.

Gene Benson. We have a number of comments from Mr. Revilak. I'd like to see the section about 40B testimony restored. Perhaps that could go in 3.2.3. If we compile all of these changes, I think that's as close as we're going to get.

Andrew Bunnell. The philosophical discussions will continue, no matter how much work we do. Having this as the singular focus of a special town meeting is important. I'm in favor of moving forward.

David Watson. Of the sections I worked on, I don't think those areas need additional focus. I'll defer to what other ZRWG members stated in comments.

Andy West. How do we go forward without losing momentum?

Andrew Bunnell. I think we have to move to accept the amendments, and then accept the amended document.

Jenny Raitt. I believe that I'll need a day to accept all of the comments in the document and to clean up the formatting.

Kin Lau. I believe this should go to a special town meeting. Either the one in February, or another one.

The board votes to accept comments from Revilak, Klein, along with restoring the requirement to have 40B testimony taken under oath.

Gene Benson. What if the article fails the special town meeting?

Jenny Raitt. The board can vote to bring it up in the fall.

The board moves to accept the amended recodification for Feb. special town meeting.