Select Board - Feb 24th, 2020
I attended the Select Board meeting to hear warrant article discussions. That's the only part of the meeting where I took notes.
Article 9/Canine Control Fees and Fines. The town clerk has received complaints about the fees attached to late dog license renewals. She's requested a reduction from $50 to $25. She's concerned that residents will avoid registering their dogs, rather than pay the late fee. Board votes favorable action, 5--0.
Article 10/Display of Notice Fines. This article is tidy work from last year's sign bylaw recodification. Prior to that, notices were regulated by state advertising regulations. The new sign bylaw put them under the jurisdiction of town bylaws. Town bylaws can impose a maximum fine of $300, and the warrant article would reduce the maximum fine from $500 to $300. The board votes favorable action, 5--0.
Article 11/Street Performance Definitions. Tom Davison from the Commission on Arts and Culture presents the article. The commission would like to see art used as a form of placemaking. This has been done successfully with music and dance performances. The commission would like to do more with visual artists, and wishes to provide painters with a way to sell their works.
The article would also permit street performances at public parks. Mr. Davison plans to speak with the Parks and Recreation department soon, as they have jurisdiction over the sale of items in parks.
John Hurd is excited by the proposal to encourage street performances, but has concerns about the sale of items in public parks. He asks what kind of items might be sold. Doug Heim says the article is framed around performers, rather than traditional vendors. He suggests that the Parks and Recreation Department regulations might be a better place to regulate what kind of items are allowed for sale. The bylaw would create an allowance, whereby the parks and recreation department could impose restrictions.
Joe Curro suggests changing the words "street performance" to "outdoor performance".
Board votes favorable action, 5--0.
Article 12/Stormwater Management. Environmental Planner Emily Sullivan and Assistant Engineer Bill Copithorpe present the article. The amendment is based on the language from the town's stormwater permit with the EPA. There's a set of requirements, and over the next twenty years, the town will need to take steps to meet them. These bylaw changes are one of the requirements. It's effectively a rebranding of our existing stormwater bylaws, but using language that the EPA requires us to use. There isn't a significant function change to the bylaw.
The article tries to clarify what is considered impervious surface. The rules and regulations mentioned in the article are still being worked on by the relevant boards. These regulations should come up for public comment on March 10th.
Mr. Heim notes that bylaw changes can only be made by town meeting, and the federal regulations are likely to change over time. Putting some elements in department regulations may make it easier for the town to maintain compliance with federal law.
Dan Dunn asks if the regulations (or a draft of the regulations) could be included in the Select Board's report to town meeting. Ms. Sullivan says she'll try to have something ready in time for the report.
Article 15/Establishment of Town Committee on Residential Development. Before opening the hearing, Diane Mahon states that she met with ARB Chair Andrew Bunnell, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, and Planning Director Jenny Raitt to review warrant articles, and decide which board should report on which articles. The group felt this article should come before the select board.
Paul Parise (resident proponent) presents the article to the Select Board. He's spoken in the past about issues relating to residential development. He wants residents to have input into any residential development, so they can preserve their quality of life. He believes changes should balance the interests of residents and the real estate community. Teardowns and large houses were some of the issues brought before town meeting in 2016. None of the citizen petitions were adopted; town meeting formed the residential study group instead. The RSG did some work, but the issues still remain. The Good Neighbor Agreement was never fully put into effect. There's concern about environmental impact, particularly where rock removal is concerned. Neighbors have reported water in their basements where none was there previously. He feels that conditions are more onerous when abutters live on non-conforming lots. He thinks it's time to mitigate these issues with residential feedback.
Diane Mahon is concerned that this article is trying to establish a shadow ARB, where the members are appointed by the town moderator. ARB members have a lot of technical expertise on redevelopment. She's concerned that town employees cannot be voting members, and points out that any proposed zoning changes will have to go through the ARB.
Adam Chapdelaine is concerned about governance issues related to the group. He also sees it as a shadow ARB. He believes that residents need a venue for voicing concerns, but jockeying for power seems wrong.
Mr. Hurd recalls the joint meeting between the Select Board and Redevelopment board. He says that public participation is important, and notes that the two boards have laid out a plan for this.
Two members of the public wish to comment on the article.
Don Seltzer asks the board to move for favorable action on the article. He points out that a large number of people are running for office this year, and (if I understood correctly) believes the board should take this as a warning.
Steve Revilak was wondering how this new committee would relate to the residential study group, and thanks Mr. Parise for clarifying.
Speaking as a town meeting member, there are several aspects of this article which Mr. Revilak would like to understand. The first involves the group composition. The RSG had a diverse set of members; residents, people in the real estate industry, builders, and town staff. He felt this was beneficial; if one is trying to work out tensions between these different groups, getting them all together in the same room makes sense. He believes the composition suggested by this article is more one-sided, and goes in the opposite direction.
Second, Mr. Revilak would like -- as a town meeting member -- to understand how this group would work in relation to other groups that have in interest in housing and development. These include the ARB, Master Plan Implementation Committee, Housing Plan Implementation Committee, and the efforts that the select board and redevelopment board will undertake in the coming year, to decide how Arlington should respond to the regional housing shortage.
Dan Dunn asks about the relationship between this committee and the ARB.
Mr. Parise says it will not be a shadow group. The goal is to raise issues. He wants the group to consist of residents who are not affiliated with development. The majority has to be non-developer residents, but there's room for developers and town staff in the minority. He says the group would try to address issues, but wouldn't be making bylaw changes.
Mr. Chapdelaine points out that the article text explicitly states that the group will propose bylaw changes. Mr. Parise responds by saying the group will propose them, but it wouldn't be able to promulgate them.
Ms. Mahon thinks this is an attempt to create another ARB.
Mr. Dunn feels this is a recycling of concerns raised in 2016. These issues have been around before 2016, and they've been around since. They're challenging because these are hard problems. He's more inclined to let the outreach process run its course over the next few months.
Joe Curro believes some of the items mentioned in the article are already addressed by the Environmental Design Review process, and reads several of the EDR criteria from the zoning bylaw. We already have a way to address these factors on a project-by-project basis. He'd like to see the process outlined by the Select Board and Redevelopment board carried out. He's not inclined to form another committee just as that effort is getting off the ground.
Board votes no action 5--0.
Article 18/Envision Arlington Updated Language. Juli Brazile, Chair of the Envision Arlington Standing Committee, presents the article. There are a few places where the town bylaw refers to Envision Arlington by its old name, Vision 2020; this article would correct those references. She'd like the group to gradually move from thinking about goals to thinking about values. Vision 2020 was formed in the 1990s and it was a very big project. The values named at that time were broad and aspirational, not actionable in the way that a goal is. In 1993, we assumed that the goals would be updated from time to time. In practice, it's been difficult to update the wording while trying to implement the ideas.
Board votes favorable action 5--0.
Article 22/Justin Brown. Mr. Brown is an Arlington resident who'd like to take the civil service exam to become an Arlington firefighter. After age 32, one cannot take a civil service exam unless the municipality passes home rule legislation requesting such. Mr. Brown is 38, and passionate about serving the community. He's lived here for ten years and would like to serve here. He recently obtained an EMT certification.
Steve DeCourcey asks Mr. Brown if he intends to take the civil service exam in March. Mr. Brown indicates that he is.
Mr. DeCourcey asks Mr. Brown if he'd accept a two-year limit on eligibility, after he's taken the exam. Mr. Brown indicates that he would.
Mr. Dunn supports this article. He feels that the civil service laws need reform. He'd like to approve the article, with a sunset date.
Board votes favorable action.
Article 7 and Article 8. The board previously held hearings on Article 7/Regulation of Outdoor Lighting--Uplighting, and Article 8/Minuteman Bikeway hours. They'd like to take a vote for final approval on both articles.
Board votes favorable action on both articles, 5--0.