Arlington Redevelopment Board - Oct 1st, 2018

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Special Town Meeting Warrant Article, re: Recreational Marijuana. Jenny Raitt reports that the marijuana study committee is meeting next week, and anticipates a public hearing in early November. So far, this is the only warrant article planned for December's special town meeting. The study group is working with DPCD staff on specific language changes regarding medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana is currently allowed in the B3 and B5 districts. We'll need to consider where recreational marijuana establishments will be allowed, and any restrictions on the distance between establishments.

Kin Lau asks if our definition of recreational marijuana establishments includes storage and growing facilities. Jenny Raitt says the definition includes a range of businesses: production, research, retail, manufacturing, and others. The term "recreational marijuana establishment" will cover all of these cases.

Kin Lau asks what these facilities would look like. David Watson states that at least one MA municipality is thinking about converting a large industrial building into a growing complex. Growing will take place entirely indoors.

Eugene Benson asks about EDR language in the zoning bylaw, and what the ARB should consider in an EDR hearing for a recreational marijuana establishment. Jenny Raitt says the study group is looking at this, but the specific language isn't necessary for the warrant article.

Motion to approve the draft warrant article passes, 4--0.

Multifamily Zoning Update. One of the goals in the housing production plan involves amending the zoning bylaw to accommodate more diversity of housing types. DPCD is working with MAPC on a parcel analysis and studying the effects of our dimensional and density requirements. So far, MAPC has completed the parcel analysis, and made general recommendations. These recommendations would potentially turn into future zoning articles.

Eugene Benson was interested in seeing a list of projects that would have been built differently, if not for special permit requirements.

Capital Square has 25 units, with around 900 square feet each. That was one of our inspirations when proposing mixed use. Despite our mixed use provisions, other restrictions in the ZBL would prevent capital square from being built today. The building was constructed in 1915, before Arlington had zoning laws.

With respect to special permits, we're seeking to allow more by right, but with performance standards, and perhaps with staff review.

Kin Lau would like to focus on small sites in the commercial corridors. David Watson was amazed at the number of non-conforming sites, even though our dimensional and density regulations have been in place for decades.

I provided some feedback on the MAPC report. I liked the what-if scenarios regarding dimensional requirements and non-conformities. I felt this painted a clear picture of existing conditions, and indicates that our dimensional and density regulations are stricter than they need to be.