Arlington Redevelopment Board - Mar 27th, 2017

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STM Article 1. This article proposes to change the definition of usable open space for certain types of new residential construction. The goal is to discourage garage-under designs with steep down-sloped driveways. The residential study group hopes that changing the minimum dimensions for usable open space from 25' to 20' will encourage developers to consider other designs. The requirement for 30% usable open space will not change.

Wendy Richter supports the article, but identifies a case where a larger house could be built. With 20' setbacks, a two-story house with an unfinished attic could be built to the setback lines.

Rick Vallerelli notes that there are a lot of requirements in ZBL section 6.00. This would likely have little impact on the size of a house that could be built, or on the size of an addition that could be added. The ZBL doesn't explicitly state that usable open space has to be contiguous, but inspectional services enforces it that way.

The ARB considers a wording change, to see if the requirement for contiguous space can be explicit.

What about a 20' space on the side and a 20' space in front? That would be permitted -- it's contiguous space in the shape of an L, where each side of the L meets the minimum dimension. Having 20' in front and 20' in back would not be permitted, because those spaces aren't contiguous.

Say you had an 80' wide lot. You might be able to build a bigger house by having a 20' strip that ran around the perimeter.

The ARB wonders if this should be limited to 6000 square foot lots, then decides that they don't have enough information to add that constraint.

The ARB discusses rewording to note that usable open space must be contiguous. They decide there's no way to make the this requirement explicit, without exceeding the scope of the article. It will have to wait for another time.

Wendy Richter wonders how often usable open space is the limiting factor in the size of a house. Rick Vallerelli says it happens with some frequency.

ARB recommends favorable action on STM article 1.


STM Article 2. This article proposes a moratorium on establishments which sell marijuana for recreational use.

The state has already extended the start date for when recreational marijuana establishments are allowed. This article might not serve much practical purpose. It depends on when the state publishes their guidance. That might happen earlier or later -- we don't know.

ARB recommends favorable action on STM Article 2.