Special Town Meeting - Oct 23rd, 2023

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Third night of the fall special town meeting. Materials were available from https://www.arlingtonma.gov/town-governance/town-meeting/2023-oct-special-town-meeting-warrant.

Tonight's test vote: will we finish all business by the end of tonight? Result was 95--68.

(Mark Rosenthal, Point of order) Mr. Rosenthal says the vote from his handset didn't register.

(Greg Christiana, Town Moderator) Mr. Christiana asks Mr. Rosenthal to bring his handset to the side of the room, so the folks running the voting system can look at it.

Article 12 - MBTA Communities Overlay District

Article 12 proposes to establish a district where multi-family housing is allowed by-right, in compliance with the MBTA Communities Act.

(Greg Christiana, Town Moderator) Mr. Christiana says he's going to be stingy with points of order when debate on this article concludes, and he'll make it very clear what the meeting is voting on. It's his job to make sure town meeting understands what is being voted on, but it's town meeting's job to understand the implications of their vote. Mr. Christiana will be working with two speaker queues for this article: a live queue, and a pre-registered queue.

(Jordan Weinstein, Point of order) Mr. Worden says the sound system is very distorted tonight, and he's having difficulty understanding what's being said.

(Gordon Jamieson, Point of order) Mr. Jamieson raises a procedural point - article 12 must be removed from the table before we can discuss it.

Article 12 is removed from the table.

(Rachel Zsembery, Redevelopment Board Chair) Ms. Zsembery requests 12 minutes for her presentation of Article 12.

Town meeting agrees to twelve minutes.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says the MBTA Communities act was created in 2021 for the express purpose of addressing the region's housing shortage. It requires municipalities to allow a certain amount of multi-family housing by right. The main motion for article 12 complies with the MBTA Communities act and achieves several goals from Arlington's Master Plan, Fair Housing Action Plan, Housing Production Plan, and Sustainable Transportation Plan. It will provide workable transit oriented development and maintain our eligibility for state efforts like the fossil fuel pilot and MassWorks grants.

Much of Arlington's zoning bylaw dates to a 1975 downzoning, which eliminated the ability to build multi-family housing by right. Capacity is a measure that determines whether a multi-family district is of "reasonable size", and it reflects the number of dwellings possible if every parcel were redeveloped to the limits allowed by zoning. Town staff started engagement on this process in November 2022, shortly after the state guidelines were released. The Redevelopment Board also voted to form the MBTA Communities working group last November. Ms. Zsembery says that community input and engagement was instrumental in shaping this proposal.

The working group adopted a number of guiding principals, including allowing a variety of types of housing at a variety of price points, and spreading the district across the town. This proposal consists of three sub-districts. According to the state's model, the total capacity is 3,216 dwellings. There's one parking space required per dwelling, but it will be possible to get parking reductions in exchange for a transportation demand management plan.

Affordable housing requirements for the multi-family district align with what's in our zoning bylaw, but they'll be subject to approval by the state.

There's a provision for a mixed-use bonus, where a substantial amount of the first floor is devoted to commercial use. Applicants will be able to get one extra story on Broadway, and up to two stories on Mass Ave. There's another bonus for sustainable buildings. Today, the ARB requires applicants to provide LEED checklists, which means the building are "certifiable". Applicants will be able to build an extra story if they are LEED certified. That's an extra step, which requires third-party review.

Ms. Zsembery says the board voted to recommend favorable action on Article 12, 4--0. Earlier this evening, the board met to discuss the various amendments that have been submitted. The ARB supports the intent of the Anderson amendment, but would prefer language did not mention a specific percentage threshold. The board was split 2--2 on support for the Bagnall amendment. She says that some of the amendments could make the district non-compliant, and there are significant consequences for non-compliant communities.

(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana will now call upon town meeting members who have submitted amendments. Each submitter will have one speaking slot to explain their amendments.

(Carl Wagner, Precinct 15) Mr. Wagner shows a slide with renderings produced by one of the MBTA working group members. He says they're six stories tall, and bigger than the surrounding buildings, some of which are only 30' tall. He says they lack front setbacks and could be as high as two telephone poles. Mr. Wagner says the public was missing from this process and he believes that one-half to two-thirds of the public do not support this zoning change. His organization, Arlington Residents for Responsible Development gathered 750 signatures on a petition to scale back these changes. Town meeting is voting on the biggest zoning change in our lifetimes, and there are people who have invested money here.

Mr. Wagner says that affordability is missing because the state limits the kind of affordability requirements that communities can impose. He says the proponents have provided no evidence for affordability. He thinks we should not pass anything until the state has made a determination on whether our 15% affordability rules can apply. He says this isn't about diversity, equity, family housing, or missing middle. He believes it will encourage tear-downs and rebuilds, and increase the tax burden. Three members from the finance committee wrote a presentation that basically said more units equals worse finances. We don't have to do this now; we can wait until the end of 2024. Mr. Wagner thinks we should let other communities participate in the fossil fuel pilot rather than doing it ourselves, so we can learn best practices. Mr. Wagner thinks we could have a better working group, allow more public input, and not exceed the requirements set out by the state. He says this isn't an affordable housing act, will have negative effects on taxes and rents, and will make Arlington poorer. He thinks it will only benefit the affluent class.

The Wagner amendment 1 will change the main motion so that if someone combines a parcel in the Mass Ave Broadway district with one in the neighborhood multi-family district, the more restrictive neighborhood multi-family rules will apply. Wagner amendment 2 will remove all bonuses from the density overlay. He says this won't create a reduction in the compliance model, because the compliance model doesn't take bonuses into account. It will also prevent Arlington from looking like Assembly Square.

(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana asks if the finance committee has any comment, as they were mentioned in Mr. Wagner's remarks.

(Christine Deshler, Finance Committee Chair) Ms. Deshler says the finance committee has taken no position on Article 12, because they felt they did not have enough data to do so. She acknowledges that three members of finance committee wrote a presentation, but the committee as a whole has taken no position.

(Josephine Babiarz, Precinct 15) Ms. Babiarz says she supports affordable housing, but she doesn't see how article 12 gets us there. She's put together a basic business plan for property redevelopment. Most new single-family homes have around 5000 square feet and sell for over $2M. Condos in half-duplexes are another common configuration. These are typically 1800 square feet and sell for about $1M. This is a sale price of about $540/square foot, which is larger for condos. If she were doing a development, she'd pitch it to middle managers in Cambridge, who typically make $250k/year and can afford to buy here. This price point eliminates people who work for the police department, the fire department, and teachers. She'd build three unit buildings, and limit their size to 4200 square feet to avoid extra environmental regulations. She says that affordable housing requires government subsidies. Ms. Babiarz's amendment would have the effect of limiting the capacity to 2050 dwellings. She believes that HUD may provide more money for affordable housing in the future, and she looks forward to seeing an a feasibility study for affordable housing.

(John Worden, Precinct 8) Mr. Worden has two amendments. The first is about affordable housing. Mr. Worden says that Article 12 has no requirements for affordable housing. We have an affordable housing bylaw but the state bureaucrats won't let us observe it, and we have to file an application to enforce our own bylaw. Mr. Worden says that people who favor affordable housing should support his amendment, which he thinks is a litmus test for affordable housing supporters. His second amendment is to prevent apartment buildings from sticking it to neighborhoods. It would require apartments in the neighborhood multi-family district to follow R1 and R2 district front yard setback requirements, along with requiring 20' between structures. Show love for your neighbors by voting in favor of these amendments. Mr. Worden says he's been a town meeting member since 1970, when he stood with the people of East Arlington to fight the Mugar development. He says we're all in this together as a town.

(Note: Mr. Worden would ask for the withdrawal of his first amendment during the fourth night of town meeting, after several people informed him that there were in fact affordability provisions in Article 12.)

(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana asks Mr. Worden if he's done any analysis of how his second amendment would affect capacity.

(John Worden) Mr. Worden says that making buildings smaller won't decease the number of units.

(Chris Loreti, Precinct 7) Mr. Loreti has three amendments. They would add a requirement for 15% landscaped open space, reduce building heights, and eliminate the environmental bonus. He believes the Redevelopment Board tempered the working group proposal, but improvements are still needed. Amendment 1 would require the same amount of landscaped open space that town meeting just adopted for mixed use. Article 12 doesn't have open space requirements, and Mr. Loreti thinks that's unprecedented. He says this will ensure that lots aren't covered with parking. Mr. Loreti says that his second amendment will align maximum building heights with what's already being built. He says that 13' is an inappropriate for upper stories, and there's no height buffer for six story buildings. He thinks that buildings that are less tall will relate more harmoniously to the environment. Amendment three will remove the bonus for LEED Gold certification. He thinks the ARB has no way to enforce the compliance of this provision, and it makes the affordable housing bonus undesirable. He says these amendments won't affect capacity. He also supports the Wagner amendment, which would remove the mixed-use bonus. Mr. Loreti believes the ARB's proposal would allow someone to build another Hotel Lexington in the neighborhood multi-family district.

(Note: Section 5.9.4.D(7) of the ARB's main motion contains a height buffer requirement for six story buildings.)

(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana asks if the Amendment 1's open space requirement will change the district capacity.

(Chris Loreti) Mr. Loreti answers in the negative, noting that open space can be in the setback areas.

(Alex Bagnall, Precinct 9) Mr. Bagnall says the Bagnall-Fleming amendment would increase the maximum height in the neighborhood multi-family district from three stories to four. He shows a slide to illustrate the difference between 2.5, 3, and 4 story buildings. Four story buildings are more likely to have elevators and accessibility regulations that than three story ones, and we've heard that a lack of buildings with elevators is a barrier to seniors who want to age in the community. Taller buildings are likely to have more units, which makes them more likely to trigger inclusionary zoning requirements. Mr. Bagnall says our housing market is like a game of musical chairs, where getting a chair depends on how much money you have. We've created a game with more players than chairs. He says we value living in Arlington, and asks if we should share, or barricade others out. He says housing isn't a zero sum game. Mr. Bagnall introduces James Fleming, an Arlington resident who proposed this amendment.

(James Fleming, Oxford Street) Mr. Fleming says the building code was the main impetus for filing this amendment. It requires additional fire-proofing in multi-family buildings. Mr. Fleming says this requirement originated in 1911 model codes, where fire codes were added to multi-family buildings to increase their cost, and discourage their construction. Building codes require no fire protection for single- and two-family dwellings. He thinks the fourth story is necessary to spread out the additional costs.

(Kristen Anderson, Precinct 11) Ms. Anderson has an amendment, and an amendment to her amendment. The second-level amendment would change the text "second floor will" to "second floor may". Ms. Anderson runs a business in Arlington Heights and she's attended every meeting of the MBTA Communities working group. She wants to encourage commercial growth, because Arlington is losing its commercial tax base. She thinks we can protect existing businesses and realize commercial growth, and the ARB has left a pathway for doing so. There is a mixed-use incentive in the ARB's proposal; devoting 60% of the ground floor to commercial use comes with a one or two story height bonus. Her amendment creates an option to have 40% of the second floor devoted to commercial, in addition to the 60% on the ground floor. She thinks this could incentivize creative two-story commercial uses, and the Chamber of Commerce letter supports the idea of commercial on the first two floors. Ms. Anderson says that Arlington doesn't have enough commercial space. Our vacant storefronts are small spaces, and usually inadequate. Arlington Brewing Company has been looking for commercial space here for 18 months, and they've been unable to find any.

(Adam Lane, Precinct 3) Mr. Lane says that Article 12 represents a potentially significant change to the town, and he believes in the goals of the housing overlay. Mr. Lane wrestled with bringing this amendment, but he thinks the idea of allowing 5--6 story buildings on Mass Ave and Broadway is ill-conceived. He thinks that will overwhelm the streetscape. Mr. Lane says that big buildings aren't objectionable, and can work well if they're set back from the sidewalk. His amendment would allow these heights, if the buildings are set back 15' feet from the street. Buildings with a 0' setback would be limited to three stories on Broadway, and four stories on Mass Ave. He's like to see patio seating in front of buildings, and thinks this is a reasonable compromise.

(Wynelle Evans, Precinct 14) Ms. Evans says her amendment seeks to restore the neighborhood multi-family district to a buffer, by removing parts of the district from Arlington Heights. Arlington Heights will still be the primary district. In some places, the proposed multi-family district is two blocks deep. Ms. Evans says that's not a buffer -- that's an entire neighborhood. The deeper district also includes parcels on hills, where the buildings can look taller. She wants to limit the multi-family district to the flatter areas adjacent to Mass Ave. Ms. Evans says she's added five new parcels to the district, in order to maintain contiguity. One of her main goals is to limit the heights of buildings on slopes. Her amendment would remove a net total of 90 parcels. She says that a majority of her constituents are concerned about these changes, and her amendment would alleviate them. Regarding the Bagnall amendment, Ms. Evans says that four stories will look like five if the building is on a slope, and there's nothing about four stories that requires an elevator. Ms. Evans thinks that builders will stick to nine-unit buildings if our affordable housing provisions aren't approved.

(John Leone, Precinct 8) Mr. Leone's amendment would add one property to the neighborhood multi-family district. It's a property that his family has owned since 1956. Mr. Leone says his family was excluded by this process. His property is surrounded by businesses and the multi-family district, but was excluded because it's on the national register of historic places. He says the parcel has an 18,000 square foot lot, and he'd like to preserve rights to do something with it in the future. He asks that 5--7 Winter St be included in the neighborhood multi-family district.

All of the amendments have been introduced. It's around 9:30 PM, and we take a ten minute break.

(Greg Christiana) Mr. Christiana starts with one of the pre-submitted questions: "why does the moderator need this information in advance?". He says the information is to help him foster a balanced debate, so that town meeting can get a more well-rounded perspective.

(Beth Ann Friedman, Precinct 15) Ms. Friedman asks if someone will be able to use these rules to build McMansions.

(Steve Revilak, Arlington Redevelopment Board) Mr. Revilak says the multi-family district is being proposed as an overlay. The overlay district requires multi-family use, so one could not use its dimensional regulations to build a large single-family home. Mr. Revilak says that someone could elect to use the underlying zoning instead of the overlay. In that case, one could build a McMansion, to the extent that the base zoning allows it.

(Beth Ann Friedman) Ms. Friedman asks if someone could build a McMansion in the business districts.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak notes that town meeting voted to remove single- and two-family uses from the business district last week. Therefore, one could not build a McMansion in the business district.

(Christa Kelleher, Precinct 5) Ms. Kelleher introduces John Barr, who's a member of the Arlington Youth Collaborative.

(John Barr) Mr. Barr says his family was looking for an apartment for his grandmother two years ago. This took months, and it was very difficult to find something nearby that was accessible and not too expensive. They eventually found an apartment in a building on Mass Ave that could not be built today. Mr. Barr says he'd like to come back to Arlington after he finishes college, but without having to live with his parents. He says there's very few people in the 21--39 age range living in Arlington, because they're basically priced out. Housing prices in Arlington are getting higher than even Winchester. Mr. Barr says he's heard concerns about how this will ruin the character of Arlington, but he thinks the town's character is already dying due to the lack of young adults. He thinks the demographic was more vibrant when housing was less expensive, and more types of people could live here. He thinks the town is being ruined because no one can afford to live here anymore. As far as the town's character goes, Mr. Barr asks town meeting if they want capitalist growth, or one of community.

(Michael Stern, Precinct 14) Mr. Stern says he favors the Babiarz amendment, and thinks that basic compliance is the most beneficial path to take. He says there are lots of countering viewpoints and the ARB changed the working group's proposal, but let's not overshoot. He says we have commercial storefronts that sit vacant, and an influx of kids pushing up the deficit. He asks if landlords will stop renewing their leases in order to rebuild their buildings, then answers "we don't know and we don't have data". He asks what it will be like for people in the rezoned areas, where someone could build a 15 unit apartment next to a single-family home. He thinks we should give ourselves time to learn. Mr. Stern suggests we hedge our bets and see what gets built. He says we don't know what will get built. He favors the principal, but wants to start with basic compliance.

(Timur Yontar, Precinct 7) Mr. Yontar offers lukewarm support, and encourages town meeting to vote in favor of Article 12. He suggests we don't let perfect be the enemy of the good, or even the necessary and adequate. Given the override vote in November, now is not the time to jeopardize access to state funds. Mr. Yontar says we have a housing and affordability crisis. We need more housing, but Article 12 is too watered down to solve this. He wishes the ARB's proposal had been bolder, enough to really make a difference. For example, they could have allowed three-family dwellings by right in all districts. This proposal covers about 4% of Arlington's land area. Mr. Yontar says that's not very good, but it is directionally adequate.

(Alexander Franzosa, Precinct 6) Mr. Franzosa wants to talk about the MBTA. He's concerned that extra riders and residents might stress the system. Mr. Franzosa says the majority of his constituents are concerned that this is going too far.

(Gordon Jamieson, Precinct 12) Mr. Jamieson is in favor of the Article. He says that Arlington has spent the last 10--12 years developing plans, and now it's time to do something. Wearing his board of assessors hat, he thinks this will provide long-term incremental new growth. Mr. Jamieson thinks the analysis provided by the three finance committee members was flawed for two reasons. First, the assessors office can only capture new growth by the end of June. The building they used in their analysis was only 50% complete at that time, and not assessed for its full value. It will be assessed for its full value once the building is complete. He suggests voting no on the Wagner and Babiarz amendments. He thinks the Worden 1 amendment is superfluous. Regarding Loreti 1, the text of the article says that parking spaces are not allowed in the front setback. He's torn on the Bagnall amendment, but leaning yes. He supports the Anderson amendment. Regarding the Lane amendment, Mr. Jamieson thinks 0' setback are better for businesses, so that the storefronts line up with the sidewalk. He's plus/minus on the Evans amendment. For years, there's been a group of residents who've opposed things like mixed-use, rebuilding the high school, and building an athletic field at Poet's corner. But no development means we'll need more overrides, and the opponents don't say they're in favor of that.

(Paul Bayer, Precinct 13) Mr. Bayer has a few questions. He asks if Worden's affordability amendment is necessary.

(Rachel Zsembery, Redevelopment Board) Ms. Zsembery says that Section 5.9.2.G of the ARB's proposal covers affordable housing. We'll start with requirements that the state will allow: 10% of units priced at 80% of the area median income. Our local requirement of 15% will go into effect when the state approves it.

(Paul Bayer) Mr. Bayer asks if the LEED bonus is good or bad.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says there's a big difference between LEED certifiable and LEED certified. The ARB currently requires LEED certifiable, but there's no requirement for certification. The bonus proposed here requires LEED certification. This is a third-party certification done by the Green Building Council.

(Paul Bayer) Mr. Bayer asks about the 13' story height in the ARB's proposal, versus the lesser heights in the Loreti amendment.

(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says that 13' is an industry standard for floor-to-floor heights. 13' provides additional flexibility for mixed-use, where the ground floor may require taller ceilings. On the upper stories, greater heights allow for larger windows and more light.

(Paul Bayer) Mr. Bayer asks if four story buildings require elevators.

(Mike Ciampa, Building Inspector) Mr. Ciampa says the international building code requires accessible means of egresses. He says this isn't required until five stories, but there are exceptions.

(Jon Gersh, Precinct 18) Mr. Gersh says he watched the working group process very carefully, and saw capacity numbers flowing in and flowing out. Enter the ARB: they scaled the district back to a capacity of around 3000 units, and scaled back the neighborhood district to three stories. Mr. Gersh says he could support that, give or take an amendment or two. He says the Bagnall amendment undoes the ARB's three story change, and increases capacity. This is a deal breaker to him. Mr. Gersh says that supporting the Bagnall amendment will be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

(Eugene Benson, Precinct 10) Mr. Benson says he'll be saying yes to the Anderson amendment, but no to all the others. He says we're all lawmakers here, and we want to get this right. These changes will have to be approved by the Attorney General, and by the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities. If either rejects our bylaw, we'll have to start all over, and we'll lose the opportunity to participate in the state's fossil fuel pilot. Mr. Benson says that everything in Mr. Worden's affordable housing amendment is already in Article 12, and what he's proposed is just surplus. The Babiarz amendment would limit the number of parcels redeveloped, and Mr. Benson believes that might violate Section 4 of the state zoning code, which requires the same rules for all parcels in a given district. Our zoning will be deemed non-compliant if the multi-family district have rules that aren't use elsewhere, and there's no place in the bylaw with a similar restriction. Mr. Benson doesn't think we need to take the chance, and he doesn't see us getting to 2046 units for several decades.

Mr. Benson says that Worden's second amendment also doesn't apply uniformly within the overlay, and there's a problem with the use of the word structure. Structure is a defined term in our zoning bylaw, and it refers to thinks such as fences, patios, sheds, and garages, as well as buildings. A requirement for all of these things to be 20' apart isn't realistic.

Regarding the Wagner and Lane amendments, Mr. Benson sees the incentives for mixed-use as a good thing. The Wagner amendment would prevent new commercial development, and the Lane amendment would take away much of the incentive for doing so. Pulling the building back from the sidewalk would mean less commercial capacity.

Mr. Benson thinks the ARB's proposal already covers the landscaping requirements in Loreti 1. Mr. Benson doesn't support the Bagnall amendment because he wants new construction that's compatible with the scale and aesthetic that's already there.

(Jordan Weinstein, Precinct 21) Mr. Weinstein asks if someone could share the town's application to the state, to allow the use of our existing affordability requirements.

(Claire Ricker, Planning Director) Mr. Ricker says a copy of the agreement was posted to the annotated warrant. We're working with MAPC for the feasibility study, and the contract for that work was signed in October.

(Jordan Weinstein) Mr. Weinstein asks why we waited until October.

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker says we hadn't identified a funding source until then.

(Jordan Weinstein) Mr. Weinstein urges a no vote on the Bagnall amendment. He thinks it's a deal breaker, unacceptable, and goes back on what the ARB said. Mr. Weinstein says he never expected to hear an argument about the cost to put out a fire. He thinks that development will happen rapidly if Article 12 is passed. He asks town meeting to read the finance committee's report to town meeting which said that increasing the number of residents will increase the cost of services. He thinks the question of whether there will be new growth is indeterminant, but the cost side is known. Mr. Weinstein says that not knowing is the best argument for keeping things small. He supports all of the amendments, except Mr. Bagnall's.

(Bob Tosi, Precinct 20) Mr. Tosi asks "is Arlington up for sale?". When properties are sold, they're replaced with new market rate buildings, and Mr. Tosi thinks that creates less housing choice. He asks who the new owners will be, and says that China is the largest foreign investor in the United States. He thinks that it's a hindrance when buildings are owned by out-of-town owners, and building more won't address housing cost. He says there's been no study of tax revenue, and he thinks the idea that building more will reduce costs is a pipe dream. He says that residents are usually upset about new development, but we're not NIMBYs. We value trees, but there's no space for a tree in a 0' setback. He says that Arlington is already a densely populated community, and that most communities are planning to do this in 2024, rather than rushing through a year early. Mr. Tosi thinks we can pass a more moderate response. He asks town meeting to vote against the Bagnall amendment, but consider the others. He thinks we should vote for Arlington, rather than voting for the state.

(David Levy, Precinct 18) Mr. Levy is in favor of the main motion. He thinks we should build more and bring more housing into the market if we want to address affordability. He would have been scared of this proposal a few years go, but has since been persuaded otherwise. Mr. Levy says he was one of eleven people who bid on the house where he lives. He has a cousin that was looking for a home, and put in a $900k bid on a fixer-upper on Mystic Ave. That property ended up selling for $1.1M and his cousin's family was out of luck. He says that what's for sale today is scary. You need to graduate at the top of your class, go to Harvard, and get a graduate degree in order to afford it. Otherwise, Arlington is not for you. He thinks we have to build enough housing to satisfy the needs of people who live in the state, and it's not fair to ask Arlington high school students to execute at the top of their class in order to live here. Mr. Levy recently talked to a nurse that works in Concord. Because of the cost of housing, she has to live outside Worcester, and has a 90 minute commute to work. He thinks we need to give people who aren't Harvard grads a chance to live here.

(Gary Goldsmith, Precinct 11) Mr. Goldsmith says we don't inherit from our parents, we borrow from our children. He thinks Article 12 is returning that payment, with some interest. He suggests voting against all of the amendments, except for Anderson and Leone. Mr. Goldsmith notes that Mr. Leone's property was left out of the multi-family district because it's on the national historic register. He thinks the changes will take 30--50 year to occur. Mr. Goldsmith notes that the state's capacity model assumes 1000 square foot apartments. If developers build 2000 square foot apartments, we'll get half as many.

(Nancy Bloom, Precinct 18) Ms. Bloom asks how the affordable housing provisions work.

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker says that if the state says "no", we'll revert to what they'll allow, which is 10% of units priced at 80% AMI. This is less than our inclusionary zoning requirements, but it's not zero.

(Frank Ciano, Precinct 15) Mr. Ciano understands that legal notices were sent to all households in the overlay. He asks why the notice didn't say something simple, like "this will increase density?"

(Claire Ricker) Ms. Ricker says the notices were legal notices, and the wording is generally prescriptive.

(Frank Ciano) Mr. Ciano thinks the law is supposed to be the ultimate of common sense. He asks why the notice wasn't worded more simply.

(Mike Cunningham, Town Counsel) Mr. Cunningham says that legal notices are bland; to do otherwise would require an interpretation of what is being changed. They're intended to inform the recipient that something is happening, thereby giving them an opportunity to learn more.

(Frank Ciano) Mr. Ciano says he supports all of the amendments, with the exception of the Bagnall amendment.

(Ezra Fischer, Precinct 4) Mr. Fischer says he's tried to keep up with the zoning changes, but he's not a professional planner. He tries to understand enough, to see if it fits his values. We have a housing crisis, we need more housing, and people need places to live. He's glad that people aren't using the phrase "character of the town", because that used to mean keeping poor people out. He thinks the more important question is optimism vs pessimism, and he hopes people will vote based on their values.

It's around 11:00 pm, and town meeting adjourns until Wednesday night.