Master Plan Implmentation Committee - Mar 7th, 2019
Master Plan Implementation Schedule. Charlie Kalauskas (MPIC chair) would like to review the implementation table.
Resident Patricia Worden interrupts and insists on being given the opportunity to speak. She distributes copies of page 88 of the Master Plan, and tells the committee that Arlington needs more affordable housing. Resident Joanne Preston gets into a back and forth with DPCD Director Jenny Raitt; Ms. Preston claims that the committee is in violation of open meeting laws. Ms. Raitt disagrees and suggests that Ms. Preston raise her issue with town counsel. A few more disruptions go by, and we're back to reviewing the implementation table.
(To me, this is a matter of residents that don't like the zoning bylaw changes proposed for town meeting this year, so they're attacking the process that created them. But that's just my opinion.)
Item 18 (dedicated bus lane). The down did a bus rapid transit pilot last fall, and the Select Board just approved a permanent lane. The dedicated lane will run from Lake Street to Varnum Street. There was demand to have the dedicated lane run all the way to Alewife Brook Parkway, but that's not how the pilot was conducted.
Item 33 (Housing and Business Components). The town is looking at commercial to residential ratios in mixed use development. They haven't established any guidelines yet.
Item 58 (Private ways). The Committee would like to have a DPW representative attend a future meeting to talk about private ways.
Item 63 (Business District). The committee asks if the Economic Development Coordinator has identified any magnet businesses. (A magnet business is one that attracts other businesses). The Capitol Theatre might be one. There really isn't a magnet business in the heights. The committee would like to improve vibrancy in the commercial districts.
Resident Asia Kepka addresses the committee. She's a member of the Arlington Cultural Council and states that the ACC is trying to create vibrancy in the town through art. She talks about the ACC's role in events like Porchfest, and believes the ACC could use full-time help.
Charlie Kalauskas thinks events like porchfest are great for the town, but this item in the master plan implementation schedule is primarily concerned with things that last year-round.
The committee notes that the Beer Garden was a temporary event, but it functioned as a magnet business.
Item 78 (Storefronts). The committee hopes the new sign bylaw will help in this regard.
Anne Leroyer gives a brief update on Mill Brook efforts. Work continues on the Mill Brook Corridor report, and associated implementation projects. The Mill Brook Committee is planning a public event later in the year. A linear park along the length of the corridor isn't feasible. Transportation is a concern, because of the corridor's proximity to Mass Ave and Summer Street.
Zoning Bylaw Amendments. The town's consultant presented the proposed sign bylaw at the last ARB meeting. The sign bylaws will be an improvement. Changes to the inland wetlands and floodplain districts will bring the ZBL into alignment with Conservation Commission regulations. There's a set of proposed changes to bicycle parking regulations, which will decouple bicycle parking requirements from automobile parking requirements.
Andrew Bunnell gives an overview of the schedule for the next three ARB hearings. The ARB will hold weekly hearings in March, followed by voting on March 27th. After the vote, DPCD staff will prepare a draft of the ARB report to town meeting. Jenny Raitt would also like the MPIC to submit a report to town meeting.
Mr. Bunnell feels that the town has been stuck in time because of the ZBL. Our goal is to encourage development along the town's main corridors, where it really hasn't happened in the last 50 years.
The ARB has permitted four mixed use projects so far. Committee members express concern at the small number of projects. They'd like to understand why there isn't more mixed use development happening. Some of our zoning regulations have prevented there from being more. Lot size requirements are particularly limiting.
One of the committee members asks about the construction at 925 Mass ave. It's a renovation of a mixed-use site. The property is in R5 but was approved for mixed use before 1975. So, that's how we wind up with mixed use in the R5 district.
The committee members discuss their next meeting date, which will be April 1st.