Arlington Redevelopment Board - Oct 10th, 2023
Meeting held in the Community Center at 27 Maple Street. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/MeetingView.aspx?MeetingID=1936&MinutesMeetingID=-1&doctype=Agenda.
Report to Fall Town Meeting
(Claire Ricker, Planning Director) Ms. Ricker says the Board's report to town meeting covers things article by article. She tried to capture elements of the board's discussion the evening we deliberated and voted.
(Rachel Zsembery, ARB Chair) Ms. Zsembery would like to go through the report section by section, beginning with the front matter.
(Eugene Benson, ARB) Mr. Benson proposes a change on page 2, to say that legal ads were run in the "Advocate and Star", rather than the "Arlington Advocate". He asks if the individual articles should note whether a majority or two-thirds vote is required from town meeting.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says she's put this question to Town Counsel Michael Cunningham. She expects some articles to have a majority threshold and other to have two-thirds. We may not get this information in time to include in the initial publication.
(Steve Revilak, ARB) Mr. Revilak suggests adding a paragraph about the articles as a whole. There are a suite of changes to the business districts that the board originally planned to bring forward last spring, but were deferred at the request of the town manager. There's also MBTA communities and street trees.
Mr. Revilak suggests that the table of contents list articles in numerical order, and that the article number appear alongside the article name in the body of the report. During town meeting, articles are generally referenced by their article number.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says the discussion for article 10 has language to this effect, and she suggests repeating the language in the discussion of each applicable article.
Other members of the board agree with this proposal.
Article 5 - Open Space in Business Districts
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak proposes several wording changes. While the discussion section focuses on Usable Open Space, the points it makes are applicable to landscaped open space too.
Mr. Revilak relays a suggestion he received from ZBA chair Christian Klein, about putting the name of a table in quotes.
Other members of the board decline to adopt this suggestion; we don't use that convention elsewhere in the bylaw.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson suggests adding a new sentence.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery would like to highlight the increase in landscaped open space requirements.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson suggests a wording change. Usable open space is a private benefit and not a public one, and he thinks the phrase "public and private benefits" doesn't make sense.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery believes that each article should state whether the board voted favorable action or no action, in addition to including the results of the vote.
Article 6 - Rear Yard Setbacks
No changes to this section.
Article 7 - Step Back Requirements in Business Districts
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson suggests adding a parenthetical that the "no" vote came from a board member who wanted the step-back requirements to take effect at the fifth floor, rather than the fourth.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery refers to a staff memo which was written last winter, and surveyed step-back requirements in neighboring communities. Most of our neighboring communities don't have step back requirements.
Article 4 - Reduced Height Buffer Area
No changes to this section.
Article 9 - Corner Lot Requirements
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak would like to the report to note that section 5.3.16 already allows the board to adjust setback requirements. He feels that Article 9 is mostly a codification of the way the board has been interpreting this area of the bylaw.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says that Mr. Benson provided another example that she felt was worth including.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau asks if there should be a diagram to illustrate what's the warrant article is proposing.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says the slide presentation will have a diagram.
Article 8 - Height and Story Minimums
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson thinks the second paragraph of the discussion isn't related to the article, and he suggests striking it.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak proposes a wording change.
Article 3 - Administrative Correction
No changes to this section.
Article 11 - Residential Uses in Business Districts
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson suggests adding a sentence to say that existing single- and two-family dwellings can continue to be used; they'll just be non-conforming.
Article 10 - Street Trees
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson suggests striking the words "along Arlington's main corridors" from the second paragraph. He also suggests adding language saying this article is necessary to ensure that street trees are planted in conjunction with multifamily development that happens according to Article 11.
There's a suggestion to clarify that the tree standards only apply to new constructions, and additions over 50%. They won't apply to minor changes.
Article 12 - MBTA Communities Overlay District
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau would like the report to note that one board member voted in favor of the article, but didn't agree with all of the changes made to the working group proposal.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson suggests striking mention of the R0 and R1 districts from the third paragraph. He reads new material, to be added after paragraph 4.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak reads new material to be added after paragraph two.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery and Mr. Benson suggest adding language to explain why the board made specific changes to the working group recommendations.
(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker says the final map and regulations have a capacity of 3,216 dwellings, and the total district area is 115.6 acres.
There's a motion to approve the report as amended. Motion passes, 4--0.
(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker suggests the board take a vote on dissolving the MBTA Communities Working Group as of the beginning of special town meeting.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery asks whether the working group should be dissolved at the start of town meeting, or when town meeting ends.
(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker thinks it's okay to dissolve the working group at the end of town meeting.
There's a motion to dissolve the MBTA Communities Working Group at the end of the special town meeting. Motion passes, 4--0.
(Jordan Weinstein) Mr. Weinstein says this is the penultimate conclusion of a very long involvement. He's pleased that better angels and the perception of the ARB were set in motion to reduce the excessive plan put forward by the MBTA Communities Working Group. He'd glad the board voted to reduce the height of the neighborhood multifamily district, and to add parking requirements. Mr. Weinstein thinks of this law as the MBTA Gentrification Act, and he disagrees with it being packaged as a social justice correction. He agrees that suburbs have used zoning for exclusion, but says the state mandate has nothing to do with affordability. Mr. Weinstein says that Lincoln applied to have more than a 10% affordability requirement, and were rejected. He thinks the whole process has been disingenuous.
(Susan Stamps) Ms. Stamps thinks the board did a great job with the MBTA Communities Act, but she's not thrilled about having SITES replaced with LEED. She doesn't see how LEED gold certification will provide any environmental benefits outside of the building, and Green Streets Arlington is concerned about this. She say she may offer a friendly amendment at town meeting, or she may get better educated. She'd like to see outdoor environmental benefits.
(Kristen Anderson) Ms. Anderson says she spent a lot of time watching how the legislative sausage got made for our MBTA Communities proposal. She's happy to see that business parcels were protected.
(Grant Cook) Mr. Grant notes that there's a "Support MBTA Communities for More Housing" sign on the front lawn of Cavalry Church, and that church has a strong social justice focus. He recently saw a single-family home in Winchester sell for $1M. It was torn down and replaced with a new single-family that sold for $2.7M. Mr. Cook thinks we've rigged the game if $2.7M homes are the only thing we allow to be built. He thinks the multi-family proposal for the MBTA communities act is a good start.
There are no more comments from the public.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery offers to speak with Ms. Stamps about LEED gold certification, and other green building standards.