Arlington Redevelopment Board - Sep 11th, 2023

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Meeting held in the town hall auditorium. Materials were available from

Review Meeting Minutes

(Rachel Zsembery, Board Chair) Ms. Zsembery asks for a moment of silence, in recognition of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The board approved minutes from their August 28th meeting, voted 4--0.

Docket 3766 - 315 Broadway

This Docket involves a sign request for Thai Moon.

(Claire Ricker, Planning director) Ms. Ricker informs the board that the applicant has requested a continuance until September 18th.

The board motions to continue the hearing to September 18th. Motion passes, 4--0.

Public Hearing: Warrant Article for Fall 2023 Special Town Meeting

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says the ARB will hold three nights of hearings for ten zoning articles that are coming before the fall town meeting. We'll be taking comments tonight, according to the schedule in the meeting agenda. The board will deliberate and vote on the articles on October 2nd. Tonight, we're only taking comment on the warrant article that involves multi-family zoning for MBTA Communities, and members of the public will have two minutes for remarks. Ms. Zsembery says there may not be enough time to everyone tonight. She encourages anyone who isn't able to speak to send written comments to the ARB.

Ms. Zsembery tells the public that there should be no applause, expressions of approval or disapproval, nor disruptions during the hearing. She says that questions and comments should be directed to the chair of the board, and that she'll be cataloging questions.

Working Group Presentation

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker says we'll be presenting two alternatives tonight. The working group engaged in a lot of outreach and iterative mapping.

177 communities in Massachusetts are subject to Chapter 40A Section 3A. Arlington is considered an adjacent community, which means we don't have subway or commuter rail stations, but are next to communities that do. Section 3A requires us to allow multi-family housing by right, at fifteen units/acre.

Ms. Ricker says that communities have to submit capacity calculations to the state. Capacity is a variable that's used to determine whether a district is of "reasonable size". For this proposal, capacity assumes that all of the parcels in the district are cleared and rebuilt, with no parking, and all units are 1000 square feet.

Ms. Ricker continues her presentation, showing slides with examples of multi-family homes, including several examples from Arlington.

Arlington's zoning mostly dates to 1975, and was based on how land was being used at the time. Arlington does not allow any multi-family housing to be built by right, and most of our housing existed 50 years ago.

For Arlington, the "reasonable size" requirements are 32 acres and 2046 units. The MBTA Communities requirements are about housing potential; they don't require housing production. Compliance will also determine whether Arlington is eligible for many grant programs.

(Sanjay Newton, MBTA Communities Working Group Chair) Mr. Newton says that Arlington started holding public meetings about the MBTA Communities requirements in November 2022, and the working group has been iteratively developing the plan since February. We partnered with the town's engagement coordinator for this work.

The working group followed several guiding principles. These were: making it possible to create a variety of different types of housing at a variety of different price points; locating the districts near transit; and locating the districts near businesses, in order to provide them with more customers. Having housing at a variety of price points can benefit seniors and municipal workers. There are currently around 2100 units in the multi-family district, which is about the same as our capacity requirement. We located the MBTA district near businesses, in order to help create commercial vitality.

Mr. Newton says the working group received suggestions to locate parts of the district in every neighborhood in Arlington. Discussions with the school department informed us that it was important not to cluster the district in one area of town.

Arlington submitted the district proposals to the state for pre-adoption approval, and we expect to hear back from them before town meeting.

There was a late change to the state guidance. An August 17th update allowed municipalities to require ground-floor commercial in multi-family districts, which we previously didn't have the option to do. The working group discussed this new provision, and didn't see a benefit over the current proposal.

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker says the proposal has three sub-districts: Mass Ave, Broadway, and neighborhood multi-family. Each of these has specific requirements. For example, the height limits in the neighborhood multi-family district are shorter than on Mass Ave and Broadway.

The height limits are four stories to encourage buildings with elevators. This will be a benefit to seniors.

The proposed zoning has a parking maximum of one space per dwelling unit. We don't have such a restriction anywhere else in our zoning, and we're waiting to hear from the state as to whether that will be okay.

There are incentive bonuses for ground floor commercial, providing additional affordable housing, and SITES certifiability. These bonuses are applicable on Broadway and Mass Ave, but not the neighborhood district. There's a two-story height bonus for providing ground-floor commercial on Mass Ave, and an one-story bonus for providing ground-floor commercial on Broadway. The affordability bonuses were developed by an affordable housing professional on the working group. There's also a bonus for projects that are certifiable as SITES gold.

There are two map alternatives. Both alternatives place the districts along Mass Ave and Broadway, and both avoid the existing commercial districts. Alternative 1 has a Heights extension along Paul Revere Road. It's 109 acres with a capacity of 7,268 units. There are approximately 2100 existing units in the area. Alternative two shifts the Heights extension to an area north of Mass Ave. Alternative two is 115 acres with a capacity of 7391 units. We believe that both alternatives are compliant, and have been submitted to the state for evaluation.

Board Discussion

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery commends the MBTA Communities working group for a wide and diverse public engagement program. She says the process isn't linear. There are periods of considering broad options, alternating with periods of focusing and testing. She notes that these processes can be messy and uncomfortable, and we're trying to deliver something that works for Arlington, rather than just checking a compliance box. She appreciates how the working group spread out the multi-family zone around the business districts. Ms. Zsembery says that Arlington is not a town that aspires to do the bare minimum.

Ms. Zsembery asks if we're checking whether the state will allow us to have parking maximums, since we don't do that elsewhere in the zoning bylaw.

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker answers in the affirmative; we're checking.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery thinks there may be a conflict between sections C1 and C4. She thinks the language will have to be cleaned up. She asks about the minimum percentages for commercial space in mixed-use buildings.

(Sanjay Newton) Mr. Newton says Utile suggested requiring 60% of the ground floor to be dedicated to commercial use.

(Matthew Littell, Utile) Mr. Littell says that the ground floor of a mixed-use building needs some space devoted to residential uses in order to make them functional -- lobbies and mail rooms for example. He says the proposal also requires 80% of the frontage to be devoted to commercial.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery asks if we've inquired about having affordable housing percentages above 15%.

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker says the the additional affordable housing percentages are part of a height bonus, and we will not be evaluated on bonus provisions.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery thinks we'll need to consider parcel consolidation. Specifically the case where someone tries to combine a parcel that's in the multi-family district with one that is not.

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker doesn't believe the working group discussed that situation.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery notes that several provisions of the zoning bylaw aren't applicable to the overlay district. She'd like to understand the rationale for that.

(Steve Revilak, ARB) Mr. Revilak offers to address some of those sections. First: removal of the visibility requirements for corner lots. Mr. Revilak says those provisions only apply to R districts. The working group recommended they not apply to the multi-family districts in order to accommodate the bonus for mixed use. A mixed use building in the multi-family district would be able to come up to the street, as it would in the business districts. He says the working group was trying to make the multi-family districts like the business districts in regard to mixed use.

In terms of upper-story step back requirements, the multi-family district has a 7.5' step back requirement above the fourth floor. The 7.5' comes from our existing bylaw. The working group wanted to allow four stories by right, and recommended the step back be above the fourth floor. Effectively, the upper story step backs would only apply when bonus provisions are used.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery recalls that there were earlier discussion about excluding parcels that were immediately adjacent to business districts, noting that the maps do not do this.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak says the working group discussed this, but felt that the ARB was better suited to making those kind of fine grained adjustments.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery notes that the neighborhood multi-family district in East Arlington is somewhat small, and asks why that is.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak says that an earlier version of the map had more in East Arlington, and the working group heard concerns that too much of the district was concentrated there. So, we thinned out the multi-family district in East Arlington and added more in Arlington heights, in order to get a more even balance.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery thinks the board may want to discuss allowing three stories vs four stories by right. And perhaps requirements for solar installation. Ms. Zsembery would also like to discuss whether SITES is the right system for obtaining a height bonus, and whether certifiable or certified is the right standard. Ms. Zsembery thinks the board has received some half-hearted LEED checklists in the past.

(Eugene Benson, ARB) Mr. Benson asks about the open space percentages used in the compliance model.

(Matthew Littell) Mr. Littell says those percentages were used to model the proposed setbacks. The compliance model doesn't work with setbacks directly.

(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson would like to discuss the elimination of landscaped open space requirements.

Mr. Benson asks about the "SHI-eligible" requirement for non-bonus affordable housing.

(Sanjay Newton) Mr. Newton says the intent was to match the existing bylaws affordability requirements. We should revisit the language if it doesn't do that.

(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson thinks we might need to re-write that section, if the state doesn't give us approval to use our existing affordability requirements.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak wants to elaborate on the open space percentages in the model. He says the model has the size of each parcel in the district. The model tries to calculate developable area by taking the parcel size, then subtracting parking and open space. The model doesn't have parcel dimensions, so it can't use setbacks directly. Instead it assumes that setbacks translate into a 20% open space requirement, which is badly mis-calibrated to our small lot sizes.

Without these open space percentages, the model would assume that 20% of each parcel was open space and the other 80% was developed. That would give, for example, a capacity of 16 units for a four-story building on a five-thousand square foot lot.

Public Comment

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery opens the public comment portion of the meeting. She remind attendees that the board will be noting questions, rather than answering them as they're posed.

(Jean Fitzmaurice) Ms. Fitzmaurice has some comments regarding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). She says the rent is quite high, and a one-bedroom apartment can go for as much as $1300/month. She doesn't think that's affordable based on any AMI in the Boston area. Boston's AMI grew 5.8% last year, so an affordable rent of $1400 would become $1485. Ms. Fitzmaurice says that buildings built with LIHTC have mix of 60% AMI and market-rate apartments. 60% AMI translates to an income of $62k, so there's a big donut hole between that, and an income that can afford market rate housing.

(Linda Atlas) Ms. Atlas asks "who lives in a household without a car?". She says that seniors and people with accessibility needs need cars. She thinks the board is being two-faced by telling people they have to be healthier. She asks the board to do the math. Ms. Atlas believes it's possible to put a ten unit apartment building on a five thousand square foot lot, and it will need at least ten parking spaces. She thinks 156 apartments could be built on her street alone.

(Lygia Gregorias) Ms. Gregorias says she's a lifelong Arlington citizen, and is very disturbed by this, and so is everyone she's spoken too. She asks "why did you decide to over-comply?". Arlington already has dense housing options, and this zoning will just create high-end apartments. She believes this will harm Arlingtonians. Buildings will be demolished and rebuilt. It's elitist and unjust. If we talk about being more diverse, we have to do something else.

(Eugenia Gregorias) Ms. Gregorias is also disturbed. She feels the state was asking for 100% compliance an no more. She doesn't know where the working group got its extravagant mandate. She thinks the MBTA zoning will be good for developers who want to transform Arlington into something unrecognizable.

(Alex Bagnall) Mr. Bagnall wants to bring a quote from a former resident of Arlington, who's now the president of Princeton University's Eviction Lab: "get rid of devious maneuvers meant to keep out low-income people". We can't say we're anti-racist if we continue to uphold exclusionary zoning. He says we need to move beyond the scarcity model, and asks the ARB to support the working group's proposal.

(Collin Bunnell) Mr. Bunnell urges support for the working group's proposal. We're in a housing crisis, and far behind in housing production. He sees this as helping to fight climate change and car culture. Mr. Bunnell says that NIMBYism is irresponsible.

(Nicole Gustas) Ms. Gustas hopes that Arlington can be more like Lexington, and do far more than the minimum required. She'd like us to do more, and says it will take at least 50 years for this plan to take shape. Ms. Gustas thinks the working group's mandate came from our existing planning documents: the Master Plan, the Fair Housing Action Plan, and the town's Equity Audit. To but the brakes on housing prices, we need to build more housing. Building more has an impact. Minneapolis cut the city's rate of inflation in half by building more housing.

(Mike Rainey) Mr. Rainey keeps hearing that developers will rebuild Arlington overnight. He thinks we need to get on the ramp. He says minimum compliance means falling further behind, and waiting means a steeper or longer ramp in the future.

(Nili Pearlmutter) Ms. Pearlmutter lives on a block that's included in the proposed rezoning. She's speaking on behalf of the Arlington Chapter of Mothers out Front, who drafted a statement in support of greater density near transit, and a meaningful MBTA Communities proposal. She says this will reduce pressure to build single-family homes further out, and the transportation emissions associated with that pattern of development. Adopting the zoning now will allow Arlington to participate in the state's pilot fossil fuel ban program. Ms. Pearlmutter respects the public outreach that's been done and urges the ARB to accept the plan as proposed.

(Timur Yontar) Mr. Yontar supports increasing the amount of housing, but he's concerned about impacts to the school district. He's concerned that it will lead to over crowding, and he'd like to know if the superintendent expressed any reservations with this plan.

(Laurel Kane) Ms. Kane says she's not for or against this. She asks if a stepped approach was considered, to measure the effect over time. She encourages a stronger environmental program, and says we have to get decarbonize faster.

(Al Tosti) Mr. Tosti thinks that town meeting should be the focus, and the board isn't giving town meeting a choice if it only offers one proposal. He urges the board to provide alternatives, including the one we're seeing tonight. He thinks this is complex and will be hard for town meeting to modify.

(Josephine Babiarz) Ms. Babiarz wishes to address affordability aspects. She thinks there are serious issues with feasibility. Cambridge has a good record with housing affordability, but they also have an extraordinary commercial tax base. The residential tax rate in Cambridge is $5/mil. Lexington also has a good commercial base. Ms. Babiarz says that most affordable housing is rental units, and this reduces the amount of taxes they pay.

(Joanne Cullinane) Ms. Cullinane has lived in Arlington for 20 years, and she thinks very few people know about this plan. She got the postcard about this meeting, and thinks there are thousands of people who would be here tonight if they could. She's concerned about the size of the plan and environmental destruction. She thinks the setbacks are unacceptable, and she's concerned about fiscal dysfunction. She think this will exacerbate gentrification and that taxes will go up.

(Rebecca Peterson) Ms. Peterson says this proposal is a loser, and that 1000 responses to a survey aren't representative of the town as a whole. She thinks people don't understand the consequences, and that most people on the MBTA Communities working group are pro-density development professionals. She thinks the process is being rushed to meet the artificial deadline imposed by the pilot fossil fuel ban. She says this process is off the rails.

(Matthew Owen) Mr. Owen thanks the working group, and says he's fully in support of the plan. He urges the ARB to pass it. Regarding heights in the neighborhood multi-family district, Mr. Owen thinks that four stories is preferable, so that the buildings will have elevators and hit the threshold where inclusionary zoning kicks in. He urges the ARB to keep the zero parking minimums that the working group proposed, since there's a growing realization that parking minimums have harmful effects. He says that space in Arlington is precious.

(Beth Melofchik) Ms. Melofchik says this is "too dense, too high, and too much". Arlington is a Battle Roads Scenic Byway community, and it needs to preserve its historical buildings. She says that climate breakdown is so serious. She thinks that three stories is enough, and that four stories will block the sun. While Ms. Melofchik appreciates the discussion of SITES vs LEED, she thinks the plan is deeply flawed, and she plans to vote against it.

(Carol Band) Ms. Band concurs with Ms. Melofchik. She loves density but thinks that town meeting needs more choices. She thinks the multi-family district should be along Mass Ave and Broadway.

(Juliet Abaiz (?)) Ms. Abaiz would like to know if there's a plan to conduct an impact study. She'd like to understand the impact to the schools and to the environment. She believes such a study should be done by an outside consultant.

(James Moore) Mr. Moore is concerned about the impact to town services, like the police department, the fire department, and the DPW. He gets the need for more housing, but he's concerned to the impact on services.

(Steve Makowka) Mr. Makowka is concerned about avoiding unintended consequences to historic structures. The applauds the working group for avoiding Arlington's historic districts, but he'd like to see consideration given to other historic structures.

(Roy Goldstein) Mr. Goldstein agrees with concerns about impact. He'd like to see Arlington come closer to minimum compliance. He'd lived here for 30 years. He's concerned about the impact to schools. We're always playing catch up and need better pay for teachers. Mr. Goldstein says he has a hard time getting this, as the corridors are part of the town's drainage area.

(Carolyn White) Ms. White grew up in Arlington. She makes between $62 and $100k per year, and is part of the donut hole that was mentioned earlier. She's very concerned. Ms. White lives in a 674 square foot rental apartment and enjoys living in a building with 75 units. The entrance to the building has seven steps. She likes the idea of 4--5 stories on the south side of Mass Ave. She's bothered by the bonus incentives and by the lack of a mandate.

(Adam Lane) Mr. Lane commends everyone who's present tonight, and he thinks that everyone here loves Arlington. He understands that change can be scary, but communities change. He thinks that residents of the former West Cambridge would not recognize Arlington today. Regarding capacity and density, Mr. Lane thinks we have choices and can manage growth in a sensible way. He's reminded of the project to re-do Mass Ave years ago, and the predictions of "carmageddon". Today, it works, and people love it. He encourages the board to move forward with the plan.

(Jennifer Susse) Ms. Susse thinks we're all people of good will but different opinions. Fifty years ago, Arlington shut down housing production, and that's led to the crisis we have today. She thinks we need to make meaningful changes. Ms. Susse says the state didn't mandate minimum compliance, and doing the bare minimum won't produce much, and won't address the housing crisis.

(Austin Brown) Mr. Brown is concerned about the plan. He thinks this will be a feeding frenzy for developers. He says there are new buildings going up on every block, including two four-unit townhomes on his street. These town homes aren't finished because they didn't comply with the building code. He's concerned this sort of thing will happen all across Massachusetts. He thinks we should put the brakes on now, because we can always do more in the future.

(Nora Mann) Ms. Mann wants to speak in support of the working group's proposal, if we want to live our values as a town. She thinks it's possible to address more issues around sustainability, and she'd like to give town meeting more options.

(Stephen Mills(?)) Mr. Mills is a 46 year resident of Arlington and he lives in a historic home. He thinks that developers will be more concerned about profit than anything else. He has to present plans to the historic district any time he does work on his house, and he thinks this should be a requirement for everyone. He's concerned about Arlington's historic properties. He suggests getting the Historical Commission more involved.

(Miles Rush) Mr. Rush thinks that a lot of people have felt the disastrous effects of restrictive zoning. He thinks the working group's proposal is thoughtful, and commends the use of modern parking reforms. He thinks that a lot of people this plan would benefit don't make it to these kinds of meetings.

(Grant Cook) Mr. Cook supports the working group's proposal. Mr. Cook says he's heard people that live in $1.5M dollar homes complaining about $1M homes. He thinks that Arlington would already meet the state requirements, if we hadn't put the brakes on multi-family housing in the 1970s. He says that the opposition started out by insisting that Arlington do nothing, and not comply; now, they're asking for minimum compliance. He thinks this is the ghost of the 1970s, which he hopes we can exorcise.

(Note: my hand is pretty tired at this point, but I'll still try to capture as much as I can for the remainder of the comment period.)

(Peter Fiore) Mr. Fiore is concerned about the amount of debris that will be sent into the waste stream. When properties are redeveloped, Mr. Fiore thinks that everything will be thrown away and nothing will be recycled. He thinks this will lead to more demolition.

(Paul Selfer) Mr. Selfer is in full support of the plan. He says supply and demand requires more housing, and this will put more money into the town coffers. He thinks it will be exciting for property owners to add new units to their homes, and that the perfect shouldn't be the enemy of the good.

(Mark Kaepplein) Mr. Kaepplein thinks that people would rather walk on the bike path than Mass Ave, and he'll vote no on anything that goes above minimum compliance. Mr. Kaepplein thinks the real goal of the state law is to preserve seats in Congress, and to keep up with red states that have much better policies than Massachusetts.

(Adam Auster) Mr. Auster says that change is hard, and it's been ten years since we adopted a Master Plan that recommends doing exactly what this proposal does: encouraging development on the corridors while leaving the residential neighborhoods largely intact. He thinks we need to strike the right balance. Regarding minimums, Mr. Auster thinks we need to this in order to satisfy both the law and ourselves. He says it would be nice to have some density.

(Marina Popova) Ms. Popova says that Arlington is dense, and should already comply with the state law. She says "to the folks trying to shame, have you read the proposal?". She says it's not an affordability proposal. She thinks it will eliminate trees, bring people with cars, and CO2 emissions. She thinks community input has been minimal, and that all residents should be able to vote on whether this is adopted.

(Judith Garber) Ms. Garber wouldn't be able to live in Arlington if it weren't for multi-family housing. She supports the plan. Regarding the reduced neighborhood district in East Arlington, she asks the board to consider adding more there. She thinks that four-story buildings are more likely to be accessible, but wonders about the incentives in the affordable housing bonus.

(Rachel Curtis) Ms. Curtis supports affordable housing but she's concerned about $1M units. She thinks this won't reduce car use, and the town's overnight parking ban will eventually be removed. She's concerned about the rush to meet the deadline for participating in the fossil fuel band, and about over-compliance.

(Daniel Scarnithia) Mr. Scarnithia supports the proposal, and he urges the board to go further. He says that greater density tends to result in lower emissions. He asks the board to consider the long-term effects of not building: new homes will be built further out, and people will have to drive more. Not building means our community will gray and our tax base will shrink. He asks the board to think about the benefits of increased density vs the risk of becoming a shell of our former selves.

(Andrew Greenspon) Mr. Greenspon supports the plan, and wishes it was bolder. He has friends that live in a two-bedroom apartment in a multi-family apartment building. He says it's hard to find small multi-family units in Arlington. Arlington has many people who live in multi-family buildings, including eight-story apartments that were built before Arlington decided to go exclusionary. He thinks this has been a long process with lots of outreach, and a large sample of residents were heard from.

(Aram Hollman) Mr. Hollman thinks the working group has been operating under three principles: (1) build as expensive as possible, (2) develop a facade, and (3) don't touch the R1 district. He thinks the goal is to attract higher income residents, and drive out the lower income ones. Mr. Hollman says that people in the R1 districts are wealthier and more politically powerful. He thinks the results of this will be perverse.

(Nicolas ?) Nicolas is deeply concerned about the plan, and even more concerned about how it was communicated. He understands the need for equity, but says that Arlington has a different tax structure. He's concerned about the impact to town services and the impact on green space.

(Kristen Anderson) Ms. Anderson has attended every meeting of the MBTA Communities working group, who spent significant effort on this proposal. She thinks it has many good ideas. She's concerned about the proposal going forward because there's been no input from the town's economic development coordinator, as that position has been vacant for several months. She thinks we need protection for all businesses, along with space for future business growth. She asks for residential parcels with businesses to be removed from the multi-family district.

(John Worden) Mr. Worden thinks this plan has so many problems that he won't be able to list them all in two minutes. He says MBTA service to the town has been cut, and that Arlington as we know it will be destroyed if this plan is implemented. He says buildings will be torn down. He asks "how about requiring that all buildings not be heated by fossil fuels." He thinks this will be the worst thing ever to go before town meting.

(Kiernan Matthews) Mr. Matthews supports the proposal, and he's inspired by its thoughtfulness. To the hecklers in the audience, Mr. Matthews notes that supporters aren't cheering and applauding each time someone speaks in favor. He says the people in this room aren't representative of Arlington as a whole. He thinks this has been an inclusive process, and he encourages plain-spoken questions and answers.

(Gordon Jamieson) Mr. Jamieson has read the proposal. He thinks it's an excellent proposal, as well as a compromise. He likes alternative 1, and notes that four-story buildings will get elevators. An earlier iteration of the proposal had 10' front-yard setbacks. People asked for 15' at the last forum, and now the front-yard setback is 15'.

(Matthew Lygate) Mr. Lygate says that children who grow up in Arlington don't stay in town for very long. He asks how people can decide to raise kids here, and not providing housing for them when they grow up. Not building housing means the cost just goes up. Mr. Lygate worked for Armstrong Ambulance for $13/hour, and was spending more than half of his income on rent. He says he's lost all social mobility due to housing costs, and urges the ARB to go as big as they can.

(Bob Radoccia) Mr. Radoccia has lived here for 83 years. He's tried to read the details of this plan, but finds it very confusing and complex. He thinks it would be easier to read War and Peace. He asks what the backup plan is, in the event that town meeting turns down the proposal.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery informs the meeting that public comment was scheduled to run until 10:00; it is now 10:00 so public comment will close and we'll return to board discussions.

The meeting takes a pause at this point. A person in the back starts yelling "I didn't know I was in communist Russia" and "you've been bought and sold" before proceeding to argue with other meeting attendees. Constables had to be called in to restore order.

Board Discussion

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery would like to get a list of topics where the board feels that further deliberation is necessary.

(Kin Lau, ARB) Mr. Lau says he heard a lot of passionate, thoughtful comments. He'd like the board to provide answers to some of the questions we were asked today, and suggests developing a matrix of questions and answers.

(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson says he appreciates the comments he's heard tonight, and the ones the sent via email. He'd like to respond to some of them now. First, Arlington adopted the enhanced stretch building code, so new buildings will be energy efficient.

Mr. Benson notes that Arlington's current affordable housing requirements is 15%, or one in six units. The working group has proposed a height bonus in exchange for a higher percentage of affordable units. He appreciates what the working group has done, and thinks that stretching the district along the length of Mass Ave is sustainable.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak wants to speak to the pilot fossil fuel ban, since several speakers mentioned it. A few years ago, Arlington and several other communities approved home-rule legislation, asking the state for permission to regulate fossil fuel use in buildings. Rather than adopting these home rule petitions, the legislature decided to have a state wide-pilot, where ten communities would be allowed to enact these sorts of regulations. The legislature attached requirements to this pilot program: communities needed to have 10% of their housing on the subsidized housing inventory, or they needed to adopt a multi-family district of reasonable size, i.e., MBTA Communities. Mr. Revilak says that Arlington has no chance of getting to 10% subsidized housing by the end of the year, which means that adopting a multi-family district is our only path for participation.

Mr. Revilak acknowledges that the end-of-year deadline has made for a tight timeline, and that's something the working group has discussed. Because town meeting's vote put us on the path to participating in the pilot program, Mr. Revilak thinks that any decision to opt out should also be made by town meeting. If town meeting thinks this proposal needs more time, they can easily substitute a motion of no action, or simply vote it down. As an adjacent community, Arlington isn't required to comply until the end of 2024, and we could take another year to work on it.

(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson notes that the proposal is for 109 acres. Arlington has over 3000 acres of land area, so the changes only affect a small percentage of the town. He says the ARB asked that no commercially-zoned parcels be included, and the working group did that. The bonus provisions would allow mixed use in areas that mixed use isn't currently allowed, and this incentivizes more commercial.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery would like to list items for further discussion. Ones she's heard are

  • Whether SITES certifiable or SITES certified is the proper standard.
  • Minimum and maximum parking requirements.
  • The language of the affordable housing section, and the requirement for SHI-eligibility.
  • Having language to cover parcel assembly, where one parcel is in the district and the other is not.
  • The quorum requirement for site plan review.
  • The establishment of new board rules and regulations.
  • Going through the dimensional controls.
  • Adding a definition of "multi-family housing" to the zoning bylaw (the current bylaw doesn't define this term).
  • A discussion about excluding certain parcels east of Orvis Road, around the Capitol Square business district.
  • Three vs four stories in the Neighborhood Multi-family district.
  • Whether the solar bylaw section can be applied to the multi-family district.
  • Setbacks for corner lots.
  • Reviewing the map to see if certain historic properties could be excluded.
  • Deciding whether churches should be excluded.
  • Whether to recommend the Alternative 1 map, or Alternative 2.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak notes that some of these items will affect district capacity. He thinks the board will need to know the capacity changes that would result from

  • Increasing the parking minimum to one space per dwelling unit.
  • Reducing the height limit in the neighborhood multi-family district from four stories to three.
  • Removing parcels from Mass Ave, East of Orvis Road.

The board discusses their schedule for future meetings. We plan to deliberate and vote on October 2nd, but need an additional meeting to approve the report to town meeting. The board tentatively sets October 10th as the date to vote on the report.

There's a motion to continue warrant article hearings until September 18th. Motion passes, 4--0.

Meeting adjourned.