Arlington Redevelopment Board - Jul 22nd, 2019

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After attending part of the Select Board meeting, I walked down the hall to where the Redevelopment board was holding a hearing on Docket 3602, 1207--1211 Mass Ave. A developer is proposing to construct a hotel on two parcels on Mass Ave. The 1211 parcel is currently owned by the developer; the 1207 parcel is a former Disabled American Veterans Club building, which is owned by the town. The developer is interested in purchasing the property from the town, contingent upon being granted a special permit to build the hotel.

A fair number of abutters attended. They raised a range of concerns about traffic, parking, and pedestrian safety at the intersection where the hotel would be located. One abutter objected to the hotel on the grounds that it might be used for illegal activities like prostitution and human trafficking. There's also a technical complication: 1211 Mass ave is in a B4 district and 1207 is in a B2 district. The B4 district allows hotels as a use but the B2 district does not. Based on the portion of the hearing I saw, it wasn't clear how this would be resolved. (Our zoning map was developed with all district boundaries coincident with parcel boundaries, to avoid split district parcels. Our zoning bylaw does not address the case of parcels -- or projects -- that cross districts).

The Board wanted more information from the developer, particularly in the area of traffic studies, and the hearing was continued.

The Board approved meeting minutes, and opened the floor for public comment.

Steve Revilak made a brief statement about land values in Arlington. Since at least 2013, single family lots have cost more than single family buildings. In 2013 there wasn't much of a difference, but the gap has been widening over time. Two- and three-family parcels have been in the opposite situation: the buildings are worth more than the land, but that gap has been narrowing. 2019 was the year it crossed over; our two- and three-family buildings are now worth less than our two- and three-family lots. The lots range from $440k for single family to $478k for two-family.

Chris Loretti wishes to propose a change (clarification) to the zoning bylaw. The current language gives usable open space as a percentage, but doesn't say what the percentage applies to. Mr. Loretti would like to see it listed as "percentage of gross floor area".

Pam Hallet would like to schedule the Housing Corporation of Arlington's next hearing for 419 park ave. September 9th looks like a promising date.

Don Seltzer offers to submit shadow studies he's done for docket 3602.