Arlington Redevelopment Board - Oct 23rd, 2023

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Meeting held in the first floor annex conference room. Materials were available from

Town Meeting Discussion

The board will use this time to discuss amendments proposed for Article 12.

Worden Amendment 2

Worden 2 would require 25' front yard setbacks where the base zoning is R1, and 20' front yard setbacks where the base zoning is R2. It would also require twenty feet "between structures".

"Structure" is a defined term in the zoning bylaw, which includes things such as buildings, sheds, garages, patios, and fences. This definition makes the "twenty feet between structures" provision problematic. Consider a 50' wide parcel with a fence on either side. Having twenty feet between structures means that a house would need to be twenty feet away from each fence, leaving only 10' for the width of the building. This could eliminate most, if not all, of the capacity where the base zoning is R1 or R2.

Four members of the board are not in support.

Worden Amendment 1

Worden 1 proposes to add language about affordable housing to section describing the purpose of the multi-family overlay. This language is largely duplicative of section 5.9.2.G, but worded differently.

Four members of the board are not in support, due to the duplication.

Evans Amendment

The Evans amendment proposes to remove approximately 90 parcels from the neighborhood multifamily district. Ms. Ricker discussed this with Utile and they believe that removing these parcels would reduce the capacity to around 2,392 units. This would be compliant by itself. However, several other amendments would also reduce capacity and a combination of them could produce a non-compliant district.

Mr. Lau asks if we know anything about the rationale for removing these specific parcels. Mr. Benson believes this might create an issue of scope. The warrant article language talks about creating a district that complies with Section 3A; Mr. Benson questions whether amendments that would make the proposal non-compliant are properly in scope. He's discussed this with the moderator, who will probably say more tonight.

Mr. Revilak says the map was the result of a long, iterative, public process. He thinks the amendment casts a great deal of that work aside.

Three members of the board are opposed to the Evans amendment. Mr. Benson has a more nuanced version. He'd be opposed if the neighborhood multi-family district retains its three story height limit, but would have questions if the limit were four stories.

Bagnall-Fleming Amendment

The Bagnall-Fleming amendment would increase the neighborhood multifamily district's height limit from three stories to four.

The board is split. Mr. Lau and Mr. Revilak support the amendment, while Mr. Benson and Ms. Zsembery do not.

Babiarz Amendment

The Babiarz amendment proposes to limit the multifamily district to 2050 permits.

Mr. Revilak thinks the amendment is unclear, as it doesn't specify the type of permit. A construction project can involve multiple permits: building, demolition, electric, and plumbing, for example.

Mr. Benson questions whether limiting the number of permits would violate the uniform district conditions in the state zoning act. He also notes that communities can't impose requirements on multifamily housing that aren't applicable elsewhere, and there's no place in our bylaw with a maximum permit cap.

Four members of the board are not in support of the Babiarz amendment.

Anderson Amendment

Where mixed-use bonuses are used, the Anderson Amendment would require 40\% of the second floor to be a commercial use. Ms. Anderson is attending the meeting, and she informs the board that she'd amending her amendment to make second story use optional, rather than required.

Mr. Lau doesn't think it makes sense to cap the second story at 40\% commercial. If he were putting commercial on the second floor of a mixed use building, he'd want to use the entire floor.

The board agrees with the sentiment -- trying to encourage commercial uses on some or all of the second floor -- but have concerns about the way the amendment is worded.

Loreti Amendment 2

Maximum heights in the Mass Ave Broadway Multifamily district are based on 13' floors. Loreti 2 would require shorter floors.

Mr. Revilak says the working group proposed 13' stories to accommodate mixed use. Some uses require a taller ground floor, and they didn't want them to be precluded by the maximum building height. Ms. Zsembery thinks that 13' floors are a well-accepted standard in high performance buildings. Mr. Lau agrees. Mr. Lau adds that taller floors allow for larger windows and let in more light.

Four board members are not in support of Loreti 2.

Loreti Amendment 3

Loreti Amendment 1 would remove the environmental bonus, on belief that there's already a LEED Gold requirement in the bylaw.

The bylaw requires applications to submit a LEED checklist showing Gold status, but there's no requirement for the applicants to build to that standard. The proposed environmental bonus would require a third-party certification that the project had been built to LEED Gold standards.

Four members of the board are not in support of Loreti 3, because it's missing the distinction between "certifiable" and "certified".

Loreti Amendment 1

Loreti 1 would require that 15\% of the lot area be landscaped open space.

Mr. Revilak thinks that 15\% is easily achievable with the setback requirements, and he thinks Loreti 1 is adding a rule for the sake of adding a rule. Our bylaw doesn't require landscaped open space to be pervious, but the front yard requirements for the multifamily district would. Mr. Revilak thinks that's a stronger standard than the current definition of landscaped open space.

Four members of the board do not support Loreti 1.

Wagner Amendment 1

The multifamily article has a provision to accommodate parcel consolidation. A parcel in the Mass Ave Broadway district is combined with a parcel in the neighborhood multi-family district (up to a depth of one parcel), and the rules for the Mass Ave Broadway district would apply. The Wagner amendment proposes to flip this around, such that rules for the Neighborhood Multifamily would apply.

Four members of the board do not support Wagner 1, because it would discourage parcel consolidation by having the more restrictive rules take place.

Wagner Amendment 2

Wagner 2 proposes to remove all of the bonus incentives from the Section 3A district.

Four members of the board do not support Wagner 2. There were three strong areas of support expressed in the first public survey: sustainability, support for businesses, and affordable housing. The proposed bylaw change contains one bonus for each of these areas. Removing these bonuses would prevent us from achieving goals that are important to members of the community.

Leone Amendment

The Leone amendment proposes to add one parcel to the Neighborhood Multifamily district. The parcel in question has been in Mr. Leone's family for several decades.

Four board members were not in support of the Leone amendment. Several board members expressed discomfort with picking and choosing individual parcels by request.

New Business

Mr. Benson requests that the board use part of their next meeting to establish a schedule for the upcoming months.

The board adjourns to town meeting.