Arlington Redevelopment Board - May 7th, 2018

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Docket 2644. The applicant is Leader Bank, who wishes to construct a new sign for their office at 180 Mass. Ave. This building is the home to Leader Bank's headquarters, and they'd like the sign to say "Leader Bank World Headquarters". It would be an illuminated sign, front and center on the building. There are other building tenants, such as Cambridge Savings Bank (who also has a sign on the front of the building).

Leader Bank provided four designs; this was in response to an earlier request from the ARB. Option #1 has the sign on an upper story step back. The sign would be visible from across the street, but not very visible from the sidewalk in front of the building.

Option #4 has the sign in a different location. It's also recessed, and has the same visibility shortcomings as option 1. Jenny Raitt requested option #4, out of concern that the other three options might not comply with the town's sign bylaws.

Leader Bank prefers option #3.

Kin Lau liked the design of Option #4, but suggested moving the sign forward, so it's more visible.

David Watson wondered if the "180" (the building address) would be visible at night.

Representatives of Leader Bank inform the board that the building is owned by a four-member condo association. The condo association's board of trustees approved designs #2 and #3 (pending approval by the town). The trustees didn't want to make it look like Leader Bank owned the entire building.

Gene Benson asks if the applicants are wedded to the idea of having the sign illuminated. Leader Bank would like it illuminated for visibility, especially during the short days of winter. Leader Bank has a loan servicing department in this building, and they get some number of visitors during the day.

Andrew Bunnell doesn't like the words "world headquarters", and wants them removed from the sign. Leader Bank says they can't commit to making that change tonight; they'd have to seek approval of their condo association first.

David Watson asks if the ARB needs to see documentation from the condo commission, stating their approval of the design. Jenny Raitt says this can be made part of the order of conditions.

Kin Lau makes a motion to approve design number three and the board votes.

At first, I thought the ARB approved 4-0, but the vote was 3-1 with Andrew Bunnell dissenting. I didn't hear Mr. Bunnell's no-vote, and neither did several of the board members, or one of Leader's representatives. EDR hearings require four votes for approval, so 3--1 is a denied application. If I recall correctly, one of the Leader Bank representatives was half-way out of the room before he realized they'd been denied.

Jenny Raitt advises the applicants to follow up with the Board of Planning and Community Development, to talk about next steps.


Docket 3552. This hearing involves the construction of a new sign by Food for Thought, for their business at 478 Mass. Ave. The applicant provides the board with an updated set of drawings. The sign has been approved, but there were open questions about the transom glass.

Andy West thinks the design looks good.

Kin Lau asks the applicants to go over the color scheme. The applicants plan to stick with silver aluminum, and to leave the unpainted brick unpainted. They plan to stick with the existing color scheme of the building.

David Watson and Gene Benson indicate they have no further questions.

There's a motion to approve the plans as submitted. Motion passes, with the provision that the plans also have to be approved by the historical commission.

* * *

At this point, the representatives of Leader Bank come back into the meeting room. One of them asks "what just happened here?". They asked why the board turned them down, so they could inform the bank. Leader felt the decision was unfair. They would have preferred to continue the hearing, rather than being denied. Andrew Bunnell didn't like the words "World Headquarters" (or maybe it was "corporate headquarters"), so he voted against their proposal. None of the other board members realized he objected so strongly.