Arlington Redevelopment Board - Jun 26th, 2017

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Zoning Recodification Update. There will be a public hearing on July 13th, 7pm at the Senior Center. There will be several presentations plus table exercises. The ARB will have public hearings in the fall.

EDR Special Permit #3522, 483 Summer Street. This is a continuation of an earlier hearing, where the applicant was asked to address a number of issues.

The applicant proposes to meet parking requirements, by combining parking facilities at 483 and 489 Summer Street (the applicant owns the adjacent property at 489 Summer St.) The applicant feels that combined parking facilities will alleviate some traffic congestion.

The applicant will provide 10 secured bicycle parking spaces, eight covered (but unsecured) spaces, and five spaces out front.

The applicant considered the suggestion of reducing building size. They believe that there's no way to reduce the building size without also reducing the number of entrances and exits. Reducing the number of entrances and exists will make it difficult to insure the building.

Environmental studies indicate no soil contamination problems. (The 483 Summer St. site was formerly a gas station.) The applicants have also developed a soil and runoff mitigation plan, to address the town engineer's concerns. The town engineer is satisfied with the new mitigation plan.

The applicants agree to pay for tree plantings in the town, if tree removal is necessary.

The applicants present bicycle parking plans, dumpster and recycling bin enclosures, planting plans, mechanical plans (location of HVAC system, and specifications for noise emissions).

Andy West asks if the building could be turned so that it's parallel to the street. He thinks the building angle is fighting against the site. Andy asks if the retail waste disposal area could be moved adjacent to the residential waste disposal area. Having the waste disposal in one place would keep trash away from the property's public area.

Kin Lau notes a discussion of handicapped access at the last hearing. He asks if it's possible to lower the building, to eliminate some of the stairs and railings. The front of the building is not very accessible to the public in the current design.

The applicant believes that lowering the building would require a stepped building design. They'd prefer not to do this.

Andy suggests increasing the height of the second floor, and making the windows taller. The applicants are concerned that this would limit the interior placement of furniture. They'd prefer to have windows of uniform size.

The applicants show samples of the brick and cornice material they plan to use.

Andy suggests larger windows for the stairway and corridor areas. He feels the building looks too standardized and institutional.

David Watson credits the applicants for making progress on bike accommodations. He asks if they considered putting the enclosed parking spaces inside the building. The applicants chose not to do this. The ground level units are retail spaces with less than 1000 square feet per unit. Moving the bicycle parking inside the building proper would take too much space away from these units.

David was unhappy with the applicants choice of "dish rack" style bicycle racks, and suggests they review Cambridge's bicycle parking guide for other options.

Kin commends the applicants for addressing the bicycle parking and stormwater concerns. He doesn't like the retail facade; he'd like a friendlier-looking streetscape.

Andrew Bunnell opens the hearing to public comment.

Comment: My main concern is with the scale of the building. Lowering the building would help the scale issues.

Question: Will cars have to back out onto Summer street?


Question: Are the bicycle accommodations expected to result in bicycles taking the place of a car?

No. The project will have an excess of parking spaces.

Question: Do changes to the 489 Summer Street parking violate Arlington's open space laws?

No. We are not increasing the size of parking facilities at 489; we're merely combining them with 483.

Comment: I'm concerned about water runoff.

The applicant notes that they've done an improved stormwater runoff plan, which was approved by the town engineer.

The applicants originally planned to put in a rain garden. The town engineer requested a berm at the rear of the property (to redirect water flow), and a dry well. The applicants added an infiltration system, so that water will be captured and stored on site, up to and above the level of a 100-year storm. The infiltration system will drain by leaching into the ground, so there's no outflow.

Comment: During heavy rain storms, I've seen water come rushing down Rockaway lane, across Summer street, and onto this property.

The applicant believes the town's catch basin system should prevent this from happening. If the catch basins aren't doing their job, then the DPW needs to investigate.

Question: What about requirements for a fire truck turn around?

That's an issue for the building inspector and the fire department. The building inspector felt our layout was okay.

At this point, siting and design are the only outstanding issues. The hearing is continued to a date TBD.