Arlington Redevelopment Board - Mar 7th, 2022
Meeting held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1542.
Warrant Article Hearings
Warrant article hearings are the main focus of tonight's agenda. The chair opens with an overview of the hearing process.
(Rachel Zsembery, ARB Chair) Ms. Zsembery explains that the board has scheduled four nights of warrant article hearings, including four this evening. There will be no votes tonight. Instead, the board will vote on all articles after all of the hearings are finished.
During the hearings, there will be introductions from the Department of Planning and Community Development, presentations by the article proponents, a period for questions and answers by the board, and then public comment. Ms. Zsembery says that comments should be limited in scope to the subject matter. Speakers will have three minutes, and may be allowed to speak a second time at the discretion of he chair. Ms. Zsembery asks that there be no applause, that conduct be civil and courteous, with constructive questions or comments.
Article 38 - Two Family Construction Allowed by Right in R0 and R1 Residential Zones
This article would allow two-family and duplex homes to be built by right in districts that are currently restricted to single-family dwellings. It was proposed by Annie Lacourt and 10 registered voters.
(Jenny Raitt, Planning Director) Ms. Raitt states that article 38 could be adopted by town meeting with a simple majority vote.
(Steve Revilak, ARB) Mr. Revilak notes that a substantially similar citizen petition was filed in 2020, which he presented to the board at that time. Although the substance is similar, Ms. Lacourt filed this petition on her own, and Mr. Revilak was not one of the signatories. He states that this is Ms. Lacourt's article.
Ms. Lacourt gestures in the affirmative.
(Note: Prior to the hearing, a few members of the public wrote to the board; they felt that Mr. Revilak should recuse himself from the hearing, because he had previously expressed support for allowing two-family homes to be built in these districts by right.)
(Also note: Mr. Revilak believes that if he'd previously expressed opposition to this proposal, then there would have been no calls for recusal.)
(Kin Lau, ARB) Mr. Lau has no initial comments.
(Eugene Benson, ARB) Mr. Benson thanks staff for their comprehensive memo.
(Melisa Tintocalis, ARB) Ms. Tintocalis has no initial comments.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak points out a Scribner's error in the board memo.
(Annie Lacourt, Proponent) Ms. Lacourt acknowledges Laura Wiener, who helped with the preparation of this article. She explains that the article would allow two-family homes to be built by right in all residential districts, and notes that a considerable portion of Arlington is restricted to only single-family homes. She's seen numerous new large single family homes built in her area, and hopes to encourage more modest, missing middle housing. She believes that Arlington is a sustainable place to add housing; there will be less travel in cars, less gas used, and more housing in town. This will provide additional options to younger families who would like to buy a home and settle down. Ms. Lacourt believes that two-family dwellings are generally more energy efficient than single-family homes.
Ms. Lacourt says that smaller homes have lower CO2 emissions, and that this will help reduce sprawl as Arlington is close to several job centers. This is about housing choice, and will expand who can live here. These homes would not be subsidized and will take pressure off the market.
This article will not make any changes to the dimensional regulations for the R0 and R1 districts. All of the provisions governing non-conforming homes will stay the same. There are already numerous examples of two-family homes in the R0 and R1 districts. Ms. Lacourt says that two-family homes are standard for Arlington; this is not something exotic or different.
Ms. Lacourt believes that any change would be gradual; Arlington typically sees about 27 homes torn down and replaced each year. She'd like to see new two-family homes in her area, with kids attending the Stratton school. This is about housing choice. It's a simple change, and it would make it easier for people to get a foothold in our community.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau asks if there will be changes to parking requirements.
(Annie Lacourt) Ms. Lacourt isn't proposing any changes to the parking requirements, and she doesn't believe it will be much different from what we have today. She assumes that parking requirements for two-family dwellings are the same as for one-family.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson notes that the updated Housing Production Plan recommends allowing two-family homes in the single-family district. He asks if that corresponds to Ms. Lacourt's article.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says that recommendation from the housing production plan came out of the Fair Housing Action Plan. It is one strategy among many.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson asked if Ms. Lacourt had taken that recommendation into account when proposing her article.
(Annie Lacourt) Ms. Lacourt says that when she filed her article, she wasn't aware this was a recommendation in the Housing Production Plan, or that a similar article was filed two years ago. She'd seen several large new homes go up in her neighborhood, and wanted to make it possible for something else to be built. Ms. Lacourt acknowledges that she was able to benefit from the Housing Production Plan and previous article when putting together her presentation.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson has some concern about ending up with two large dwellings. He proposes limiting the size of each dwelling to 1850 square feet, because that's the state definition of "starter home" in Chapter 40R. He thinks that holding down the building size could help hold down prices.
(Annie Lacourt) Ms. Lacourt asks Mr. Benson if he's proposing to limit the size of all new two-family homes, or just ones built in the R0 and R1 district.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson indicates that he's only interested in a size restriction for the R0 and R1 districts. The other districts are probably not in scope for this article.
(Annie Lacourt) Ms. Lacourt asks if Mr. Benson would want the size restriction in other districts, regardless.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson says he gets Ms. Lacourt's point, and will have to consider it.
(Annie Lacourt) Ms. Lacourt notes that we can make dwellings smaller by expanding the number of units on a lot.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson thinks that allowing more than two dwellings/lot would exacerbate some of the concerns that members of the public expressed via email.
(Annie Lacourt) Ms. Lacourt doesn't like the idea of size restrictions, but she wouldn't consider that a hostile move.
(Melisa Tintocalis) Ms. Tintocalis asks if there was any consideration given to residential design guidelines. To cover height and massing, for example.
(Annie Lacourt) Ms. Lacourt says she wanted to keep her article simple. She's aware that the town has a set of residential design guidelines, and understood that they apply to both single and two-family homes. She doesn't believe these guidelines are being followed in her neighborhood, though.
(Melisa Tintocalis) Ms. Tintocalis asks if someone from inspectional services can comment about how they'd see this playing out. For example, will developers try to maximize the building envelope?
(Michael Ciampa, Director of Inspectional Services) Mr. Ciampa says that the R1 and R2 districts have the same lot size requirements, and he expects new houses in those districts to be the same size, but with two units. The R0 district has a larger minimum lot size, and he expects new homes there to be bigger. He's not sure what the happy medium is.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak says he asked staff for information about the number of starter homes produced under 40R, and they indicated that the number was very small. If we decide to add a size restriction, it would be worthwhile to understand why so few 40R starter homes have been built. Whether it's due to the size restriction, or something else.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says she potentially sees the necessity of an education plan for this article, and advises Ms. Lacourt to discuss this with town meeting members beforehand. She asks if Ms. Lacourt has considered an education/outreach plan, noting that strong education plans have been helpful in the past.
(Annie Lacourt) Ms. Lacourt says that if the ARB recommends favorable action, and education plan will be her next step. She'd want to attend precinct meetings leading up to town meeting, and produce some written material. Ms. Lacourt isn't assuming that the article will pass either body, but thinks its a change we should discuss.
The chair opens the hearing to public comment.
(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore says this feels like a redux of something that failed dramatically in the past. This does away with the R1 district. He thinks that changes to the vision of Arlington should be done with a scalpel, and this feels more like a hacksaw. He thinks it would push a huge workload onto the ZBA because many of our lots are non-conforming. There'd have to be enough parking for two families. Mr. Moore says that Arlington's lots are small so the only way to go is up, and that would be a big change. He doesn't support the article. He thinks the town should incentivize two-family homes, not push them. He doesn't think the board should support this article.
(John Gersh) Mr. Gersh has four questions. First, would people be allowed to build ADUs in these two family homes? Second, how would existing residents be notified? Third, is there any evidence the new homes would be more affordable than the existing single-family ones? Finally, is there any evidence that there won't be as many cars?
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says that each duplex unit would be allowed to construct an ADU, and this article wouldn't change any of the notification requirements.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says that notifications for special permit hearings or the good neighbor agreement would happen as they do now.
(Annie Lacourt) Ms. Lacourt says she's a big proponent of affordable housing, but this article is more about starter homes and the missing middle. She realizes that new homes could be large in the R0 district, because building to the maximum allowed under zoning is what happens now. She hopes this article would be a step down from that.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson says the article doesn't change the ADU rules. However, all of the existing setback requirements have to be met. For example, if the building were built to the maximum size, the homeowner wouldn't be able to build an addition for an ADU.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt concurs. She notes that single- and two-family dwellings can have one ADU per unit.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson thinks that building to the maximum size might make it difficult to add an ADU later.
(Jordan Weinstein) Mr. Weinstein is opposed. He says this could diversify Arlington if it created more affordable housing. He doesn't agree with Ms. Lacourt's logic, and thinks it won't be better for the environment. He think it would add pressure. He thinks we should examine the assumption that building more housing will relieve market pressure. We can look at actual data. Mr. Weinstein thinks this would enhance gentrification and would be a giveaway to developers. He thinks the board should focus on true affordable housing.
(Carl Wagner) Mr. Wagner says he was born in Arlington, moved away, and then came back. He thinks that Arlington is neither urban nor suburban. He says the proponent is trying to add houses, and that was turned down a few years ago. He says it would provide housing choice for people who don't live here already. He thinks the new homes would be at a higher price point and it would eviscerate middle-income housing. Mr. Wagner notes that Mr. Revilak was involved in a similar warrant article a few years ago, and he hopes Mr. Revilak will recuse himself from this article.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says it's not necessary for Mr. Revilak to recuse himself.
(Wynelle Evans) Ms. Evans appreciates the intent, but believes this article is entirely for buyers of million dollar homes. She thinks it will incentivize teardowns. Ms. Evans says that according to 2021 MLS data, homes that cost over $1M sold after 12 days on the market, but less expensive homes took longer to sell. People aren't interested in putting some elbow grease into fixer-uppers, which is how she got her home. She believes this will lead to higher property taxes and push people out of town. She thinks the proponent should be required to notify all abutters that would be affected by the use change.
(James Fleming) Mr. Fleming is in favor of the article. He says that builders build single family homes to the maximum size allowed because there's a market for it. He thinks that two-family homes will increase the tax base, and that having more residents will be better for businesses. He thinks that we shouldn't expect Arlington to be affordable any more than Beacon Hill is affordable. He thinks this will be good for the town. It will add a little economic diversity, rather than nothing at all.
(John Worden) Mr. Worden want to start with the slides the petitioners submitted for this meeting. The slides have lots of photos of two-family homes in single-family districts. The slide deck calls this "a tour of Arlington's illegal homes". Mr. Worden says there's a difference between being pre-existing non-conforming and being illegal, and he's mystified at why staff put these materials on the website. Mr. Worden says this is a terrible article, and that there's already a way to build two-family homes in single-family districts -- it's called an ADU. The master plan says that Arlington only needs affordable housing and housing for seniors, and he brought this up at the Zoning Bylaw Working Group. He says we're talking about developer profits here, and that if we can't follow the master plan, then we shouldn't be doing it.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery wants to clarify that the slides were provided by the Article's petitioners, and not by town staff.
(Patricia Worden) Ms. Worden says that article 38 is not about affordable housing; it's about developers. She thinks it's discriminatory and racist and would be a profound and tragic change. She thinks this would eliminate low-income housing and price out teachers and service providers. Any affordability will be a thing of the past, except for the Arlington Housing Authority. She says the proponents opposed a temporary moratorium on teardowns, and thinks this article should be vetted with the Select Board.
(Wendy Richter) Ms. Richter thinks the unintended consequence could be detrimental, and that we'll lose the missing middle. She says that smaller two family homes are being replaced by larger ones, and feels we should incentivize smaller units. She thinks that tying the development to the residential design guidelines might help, but the projects would need to be reviewed. She asks if these homes would have two front doors. She thinks that having an extra door on each house would change the character of the neighborhood. She thinks there needs to be more review and oversight.
(Liz Pyle) Ms. Pyle says the residential study group studied rebuilds for three years. Single- and two-family homes are targeted for rebuild. She says that new homes will be built to the maximum size allowed, and we'll see the impacts all throughout town. She thinks this will remove homes in the $600--700k range. She thinks there will be less housing choice and unintended consequences, like large massing, less green space, and parking problems. Ms. Pyle thinks that Arlington shouldn't be the first town in Massachusetts to remove single-family zoning, and urges the board to reject the article.
(Don Seltzer) Mr. Seltzer says he'll try to answer the question of how many homes. He says the Residential Study Group didn't endorse the 2019 report on teardowns. He thinks that any lot over 5000 square feet would become a target for a duplex condo. He says that homes are affordable in the Stratton School neighborhood, and they sell for around $780k. If this passes, there will be big expensive condos and no affordable housing.
(Michele ?) Michele is a new resident. She asks how guidelines will be enforced.
(I think I missed a little here)
(Kristin Anderson) Ms. Anderson is concerned about stormwater runoff, and she says that rainwater is a natural resource. She asks how this will change the amount of pervious surface. She asks how many trees will be cut down if this passes. She says this is an terribly important issue, and that Arlington has flooding problems. She's disappointed that no one has considered this.
(Anne Ehlert) Ms. Ehlert has a lot of concerns about the article. There will be increased density and residents don't feel the need to talk about property taxes. Ms. Ehlert notes that Arlington is spending nearly $300M to rebuilt the high school. She says there isn't a process to communicate the impact to infrastructure and taxes. She believes it will take a 50% vote to pass this article, and a 2/3's vote to undo it.
(Rebecca Peterson) Ms. Peterson urges the redevelopment board to categorically reject this article. She thinks it will destroy the thing that drew people here. What about people who want to live in a single-family district? Stop demonizing us. She appreciates Arlington's town-like feel and thinks this will be a dream for the teardown crowd. She thinks the push for more density is tiring.
(Matt Owen) Mr. Owen points out that 687 Ridge Street sold for $687k and was replaced by a larger home that sold for $1.5M. Another one in the area sold for $639k and was also replaced by a $1.5M home. If we don't enact this article, Mr. Owen thinks those kinds of rebuilds are the status quo we'll continue get. He asks if we want fewer starter homes and more multi-million dollar ones. He notes that two-family homes are now legal in the entire state of California.
(Aram Hollman) Mr. Hollman is here to speak against the article. Smaller or larger, whatever is proposed will increase profitability. He thinks the proponents arguments don't hold and asks "more affordable than what?". He's aware of a two-family home that was renovated into condominiums. One sold for $800k and the other for $1.3M. He thinks this could be another racist policy and that it won't improve sustainability.
(Judith Garber) Ms. Garber is generally in favor. She lives in a multi-family home because she could afford a single-family. Increasing the amount of housing is not a bad thing. Ms. Garber lives in East Arlington and thinks it's really nice. Several town meeting members in East Arlington like this idea, and she looks forward to a discussion at town meeting. She says that having more people isn't bad and note that Arlington had a larger population in the past.
(Janice Weber) Ms. Weber is against the article. There were several knock downs in her street, and the new homes don't match the neighborhood. She says that some houses look like parking lots, and that the proponent is trying to push out single family homes. She thinks that taxes will increase and the schools will cost more. Ms. Weber says that people who are trying to make Arlington urban should go back to the city.
(Eileen Cahill) From an engineering perspective, Ms. Cahill thinks it would be irresponsible to pass this article without assessing the infrastructure, like water and sewer mains. Engineers use zoning to size pipes. Ms. Cahill believes that Arlington's pipes are old, and that we have to look at this. She says she has a list of 25 trouble spots in the town's infrastructure. She thinks that traffic will increase, and that we're already overburdened with traffic. This is way too big a decision for this town. Ms. Cahill says we should be thankful when we can flush the toilet and it works.
(Stuart Brorson) As far as having a higher population in the past, Mr. Brorson says that Arlington used to be mostly Irish Catholic families with lots of kids. Now, those Irish Catholic families are being replaced by yuppies. Although Ms. Lacourt is trying to solve a problem, we have to think about how this will change the character of our community. People will be angry if Arlington becomes more like Cambridge or Somerville. Many people will feel broadsided. Mr. Brorson asks "who benefits from this?". He says the real estate industry will benefit, and asks why we should throw more gas on the problem. He says the Redevelopment Board hasn't stopped teardowns.
(Dolores McGee) Ms. McGee says that with greater residential density, we have to consider residential traffic. She thinks the streets can't handle the traffic we already have. Walkability is important and this zoning change threatens to undo that. She's not sure how it would impact rodent issues.
(Grant Cook) Mr. Cook says it's easy to confuse "what is" with "what should be" when "what is" has been working in your favor. He says there are many housing problems, and he'll start with subsidies and scarcity. In order to create more affordable housing, we need subsidies. If you ask someone who wants high affordability about the subsidies, you're usually met with silence. This article helps address scarcity. Regarding negative impacts, Mr. Cook doesn't buy the allegations about infrastructure. He says objections like this betray the Black Lives Matter signs that are in so many yards around town. By not allowing more housing here, we're just pushing people into lower-cost neighborhoods like Roxbury and Southie.
(Barbara Thornton) Ms. Thornton says this is becoming a town full of McMansions, and the believes Article 38 would slow that down. We've lost economic diversity, and this article won't change whether developers come in, tear down, and rebuild homes. Regarding infrastructure, Ms. Thornton says that over half of Arlington's homes are over 50 years old, and they're not being upgraded regularly. Ms. Thornton believes that some of them are becoming dangerous. She hopes the ARB will stand up to McMansions. She feels this will be an incremental approach which generates a small number of homes per year, and she supports it.
(Sanjay Newton) Mr. Newton thanks Ms. Lacourt for submitting her article. He supports it.
(Susan Stamps) Ms. Stamps thinks people are desperate to find ways to make more housing available, but she doesn't support this article. She used to live in Carlisle, but people built McMansions there. She thinks this will degrade homes and the environment. If builders are allowed to build duplexes, they'll make more money. Homes will be bigger and there will be more impervious surfaces. She thinks there has to be a better solution.
(Stephen Blagden) Mr. Blagden thinks the article will increase teardowns. He keeps hearing that the changes will be incremental, but thinks that will be like boiling a frog. He thinks the article might have been more aspirational than considered. Mr. Blagden thinks that ADUs already ended single-family zoning, and the proposal is a betrayal of the compact of single-family zoning. He says it will destroy Arlington.
(Alex Bagnall) Mr. Bagnall says that zoning and land use are a part of our values. Exclusion by race and class are key drivers of single-family zoning. He supports the article.
(Teri Kirkland) Ms. Kirkland wishes we had more time to listen to Ms. Worden. She says that no one was speaking to the problem of tearing down smaller homes. She says the home next to hers had a water line crack, which caused a big leak. Trees are taken down when new homes are built. Some two-family homes don't have yards. She thinks this article was prematurely put together. Two family homes will mean more people in town. She thinks everyone in town should be noticed about the change.
(Gary Goldsmith) Mr. Goldsmith thinks it's disingenuous to believe there will be fewer cars; duplexes will require two parking spots. He also thinks it's disingenuous to think this will reduce McMansionization. He thinks builders will try to maximize the size of buildings. He says there's a certain population looking for $2.2M dollars homes, but these will be more like $1.1M. There could be population growth.
That's the end of public comment.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery wants to summarize some of the topics that she heard during the public comment period: how would the residential guidelines be incorporated; will this increase teardowns or be a reconfiguration; parking; infrastructure; impacts on property taxes; thoughts on limiting size.
(Annie Lacourt) Ms. Lacourt wants to explain what inspired her to file the article. There was a row of 8--10 homes in her neighborhood, and each of them was torn down and rebuilt as a larger home, some to the maximum dimensions. A two-family home under this article would have the same impact. She doesn't think a new duplex would have any more environmental impact than the large homes being built today.
She doesn't thinks this article will affect trees relative to existing one-family reconstruction, but agrees that it may put more children in the schools. She discussed her article with the town manager and DPW director, and they were comfortable with it. She says Arlington has a very good program of for infrastructure maintenance. She'd like more neighbors, and she doesn't see any way to prevent people from selling their homes for top value. She reiterates that are an average of 27 teardowns/year in Arlington. She also notes that this article wouldn't require anyone to build a two-family home; they could still build a single-family if they wanted to.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau would like to know where this kind of change has been enacted, what the outcome has been, and what the results here. For example, in California and Washington.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson notes that state law doesn't allow towns to limit the square footage of single-family homes, but they could put a limit on duplexes and two-families.
(Melisa Tintocalis) Ms. Tintocalis encourages Ms. Lacourt to consider how outreach will happen.
(Rachel Zsembery) (I missed Ms. Zsembery's comment)
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak thanks Ms. Lacourt for bringing this article forward. He says we've been talking about housing prices for several years now. Since we never agree on what to do, nothing ends up getting done, and prices continue their escalator ride up as they've been doing for years. That's our status quo, and if we do nothing it will likely continue. He thinks it takes courage to propose an article like this.
Mr. Revilak notes that our last town meeting adopted an ADU article. He asks if any ADUs have been built to date.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says no, none have been built.
Article 28 - Enhanced Business Districts
This article was drafted by the department of planning and community development. It seeks to encourage pedestrian activity and maintain an active street.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt explains that this article would only apply to properties in the business districts, and it's based on recommendations from the Congress on New Urbanism. It would expand on some of the standards recently adopted for the Industrial zone. She says the article would encourage active uses, and it would apply to new construction or additions of over 50%. It sets standards for transparency on the ground floor, with clearly defined ground floor entrances.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau says he's supportive.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson is generally supportive.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says there were some wording changes since the article was discussed by the zoning bylaw working group.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson calls attention to a section in the standards that says "no blank facades are permitted". He thinks this should apply to facades that face a public way. He says that one of the purposes is to eliminate inactive spaces. He thinks the article does this with lobbies, but not offices or banks. He'd like to see something in the standards that addresses offices than banks; or have them removed from the purpose.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau would prefer to avoid the words "offices" and "banks".
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says Mr. Benson's point about corner lots is a good question.
(Melisa Tintocalis) Ms. Tintocalis is curious about why this would only apply to new constructions, additions, or reconstruction of over 50%. She asks what happens when there are smaller changes, like changes in use.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak agrees that it's difficult to define non-active uses. He's aware of a provision in the Central Square Business District zoning that tries to do this -- it restricts banks to a a certain percentage of the block face.
The chair opens the hearing to public comment.
(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore asks about the purpose of standards for upper floor lobbies.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says it's really to identify (say) the residential part of mixed use.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says the idea is to avoid dead spaces. Our storefronts tend to be small, and we want the space to be fully optimized.
(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore suggests using more words than "optimize"; for example, adding some language that describes what is being optimized.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson says there are buildings where the lobby had to be on the side or in back of the building, so we have to allow for that.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau says the bottom floor is the primary use, and we want that to activate the street edge.
(James Fleming) Mr. Fleming has a comment about active uses. Near the end of his street, there's a store called Derby Farm. They close at 5:30, and he's not sure if that's an active use. He asks why the article specifically calls out banks and offices.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says that retail and restaurants do more to draw a person in. She thinks the ground floor should be more than a wall.
(James Fleming) Mr. Fleming says that some of these are dead spaces when they close at 5:30.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery notes that time-of-day uses are something the ARB considers when permitting projects.
(James Fleming) Mr. Fleming thinks we should let offices and banks be what they are.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau would like to strike the words "banks" and "offices". He thinks the board has been addressing corner lots.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson isn't sure what to do about corner lots. If the lot's at the intersection of two major streets, we might want to apply the standards to both. If one of the streets is smaller, this might only apply to the main one. He thinks there shouldn't be blank facades on any public street. Mr. Benson suggests having the purpose statement describe the active uses it wants to encourage, rather than the inactive uses it wants to discourage.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak has nothing to add.
(Kelly Lynema) Ms. Lynema suggests changing the last phrase of the purpose statement to say something like "active ground floor uses".
Article 29 - Street Trees
This article proposes street tree standards for projects subject to environmental design review.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says the article is for the preservation and planting of public street trees. She says it's similar to our site standards for the industrial district, and standards in other communities. The goals are to provide an adequate shade tree canopy, help the town reach carbon neutrality, and to avoid heat islands.
(Kin Lau) (I missed Mr. Lau's comment)
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak comments on the phrase "public right of way" in the definition of public shade tree. The state definition uses the words "public way". Mr. Revilak believes the two phrases mean the same thing, but wonders if we should use the same wording as the state statue.
(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore says he's a member of the tree committee, but he's not speaking for them as the tree committee hasn't discussed this article as a group. He thinks this is an excellent move. He asks if this will apply to private trees. He also notes that trees need to have a watering plan, and they'll die if maintenance isn't done.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery thinks the board could add watering plans. She asks if the article is about private trees.
(Jenny Raitt) (I missed Ms. Raitt's answer)
(Kelly Lynema) Ms. Lynema says that section 6.3.4(D) is supposed to be the requirement for maintenance. There could be language that defers to the tree warden.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson suggests saying "American Standards for Nurseries, or other standard".
(Don Seltzer) Mr. Seltzer thanks the board for sponsoring this article. He wonders if there needs to be a clarification which says the property owner is the one responsible for maintaining the tree. He asks if there should be a penalty for not taking care of the tree.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery asks about penalties.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau thinks it's clear that the owner is responsible. He says that the American Standards for Nurseries basically says "put a gator bag around the tree and fill it a few times a week".
(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore says the standard for watering is three years. Regarding payments to the tree fund, Mr. Moore suggests that option only be exercised at the discretion of the board.
Article 30 - Solar Energy Systems
This article would add solar installation standards for projects subject to environmental design review.
(Talia Fox, Sustainability Director) Ms. Fox explains that this article would require solar energy systems on buildings subject to environmental design review. A 2015 zoning audit noted that solar energy systems are generally not addressed in our bylaws. We added industrial district solar energy system standards to the bylaw in 2021. Our Net Zero Action Plan would like all suitable roofs to have solar energy systems. Ms. Fox says that other towns have enacted similar bylaws.
This article would add several definitions pertaining to solar energy systems, and require them on 50% of the roof area of buildings subject to EDR. The article also allows the ARB to adopt rules and regulations for EDR applicants. There's also a set of exemptions, and provisions to allow an applicant to propose alternative ways of meeting the requirements.
(Shelly Dein) Ms. Dein is a member of the Clean Energy Future Committee, but she's speaking as an individual. She says this warrant article is similar to ordinances in Watertown and Medford. In Watertown, it produced new solar installations on 10--15 buildings, and none of the applicants sought exemptions. The Medford ordinance is still new, but town staff there had a positive feeling about it. Rooftop solar doesn't increase impervious surface. She hopes the board will give a positive vote to this article.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau wants to make sure we don't create a case where one building owner puts up solar panels, and that prevents a neighboring owner from building up.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson supports the article. He's not sure what Mr. Lau is getting at. Even if zoning regulations allow a property owner to build up, there's no guarantee that they would. He thinks that state law already does what Mr. Lau is saying.
(Talia Fox) Ms. Fox says that Arlington hasn't enacted anything to prevent this.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau doesn't want solar energy systems to block people from building things that zoning would otherwise allow.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson thinks there are court cases which cover this circumstance.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak agrees with Mr. Lau; he doesn't want solar installations to be an impediment to building up. He notes that shade trees could create a similar situation, and doesn't want solar installations to be an impediment to shade tree planting.
The chair opens the hearing to public comment.
(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore thinks Mr. Lau's comments are well-taken. It's good to think ahead. Likewise to the tree issue -- Mr. Moore wants to be sure that putting up solar panels don't force shade trees to be cut down. He says that trees and solar panels are both beneficial, but they don't get along with each other. He doesn't want to see business owners taking down shade trees.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery believes that concern is already covered.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson will try to work on a sentence to address Mr. Lau's concern.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak points out a typo in Section 6.4.1; there's a space missing between two words.
That's it for tonight's warrant articles. There's a motion to continue the hearings until next week, which passes 5--0.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt expresses gratitude to the Clean Energy Futures Committee and the people who helped put this article together.
Draft ARB Meeting Schedule
The board discusses their proposed meeting schedule for the rest of 2022.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says that the board's April 7th meeting will be held over zoom. She doesn't know if this year's town meeting will be in person or remote, and suggests the board could resume in-person meetings after town meeting ends.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says the Remote Participation Committee has been discussing hybrid meeting pilots.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says the Select Board has been experimenting with mixed in-person/remote meetings. She asks if board members have a preference for 7:00 or 7:30 start times.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau prefers 7:30 pm start times. He's okay with meeting in person at the end of May.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson doesn't have a preference between 7:00 and 7:30, but he'd like more information about hybrid meetings.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says we may not be fully equipped for hybrid meetings until sometime in July. We can see what's available during next week's tour of the Central School.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson asks if the ARB will have the option of meeting in a room that's larger than the second floor annex in town hall.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt thinks we'll be able to book a larger room.
(Melisa Tintocalis) Ms. Tintocalis would prefer a 7:30 start time.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak also prefers 7:30. He asks how the board typically handles time conflicts with town meeting, as the ARB and town meeting both meet on Monday nights.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says the ARB usually meets before town meeting, from 7:00 to 7:45.
There's a motion to approve the meeting schedule; passes, 5--0.
There are no speakers for tonight's open forum.