Zoning Board of Appeals - Apr 13th, 2021

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Meeting conducted via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1286

Docket 3651 - 190--192 Mystic Valley Parkway

This is a continued hearing, where the petitioner is proposing a second driveway.

(John Bavuso, Petitioner) Mr. Bavuso says his company purchased the two-family home at 190--192 Mystic Valley Parkway. They rehabilitated the building and divided it into two condominiums. They've hired a traffic engineer to evaluate the second driveway, and the traffic engineer found no issues with it. There would be a 12' clear line of sight around the corner. The second driveway would have a "hammerhead" configuration, so that a car could turn around and exit without having to back out onto the street. The last accident at this intersection was in 2016. The lot is narrow and deep, and 60% of the lot area is in the front yard (on the Mystic Valley Parkway side; it's a corner lot).

Mr. Bavuso said they initially wanted to have the second driveway on Mystic Valley Parkway, but the state wouldn't give them permission for a curb cut. So, they're asking for another driveway on the Park Street side of the property. Mr. Bavuso says he'd be willing to seek a variance, in order to allow parking in the front yard.

Board members note that the hearing was not advertised as a variance, and Mr. Bavuso would have to file a variance application.

(Christian Klein, ZBA Chair) Mr. Klein notes that the original lot had four parking spaces in back of the house. The owners built an addition, which eliminated two of the parking spaces.

(Pat Hanlon, ZBA) Mr. Hanlon explains the difference between a variance and a special permit, and notes that the criteria for a variance are much more stringent.

(Steve Revilak, ZBA) Mr. Revilak asks if Mr. Bavuso would consider putting the parking space for the second driveway alongside the house, opposite the Park Street side. That would put the parking space in the side yard and behind the front setback, which our zoning bylaw allows.

(John Bavuso) Mr. Bavuso says he'll consider this suggestion. He'd like to stick with the special permit application, rather than pursuing a variance.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein suggests that Mr. Bavuso speak with the building inspector, to verify that the changes will be in scope of the way this permit was advertised.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

(Chris Loreti) Mr. Loreti asked if the applicant filed a site plan when they applied for a building permit.

(John Bavuso) Mr. Bavuso describes the addition they built onto the home.

(Chris Loreti) Mr. Loreti believes there was ample width for four parking spaces, prior to the rear addition being added. He thinks the applicant should reduce the size of their addition, if they want to have more parking spaces.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore thinks the curb cut will be too close to the stop sign, and suggests the addition of a driveway will lead to accidents at this intersection. He thinks it will introduce a safety issue.

(Done Seltzer) Mr. Seltzer believes the applicants added over 1200 square feet to the home, and should have come before the ZBA to seek a special permit for a large addition. He claims this happens a lot.

Hearing continued until April 27th, at 7:30pm.

Docket 3652 - 41--43 Fairmont Street

This is a continued hearing, where the applicants would like to add dormers to the third floor of their house, in order to have move living space.

(William Nolan, Architect) Mr. Nolan recalls that the board asked him to review the town's residential design guidelines. He's reviewed the guidelines and made several changes as a result. These include: adding column and trim detail to the addition above the front porch, adding panels to the top of the roof gables, using a more traditional eave return, adjusting the window alignment, and increasing the shed dormer setback from 1' to 5.5'.

Mr. Nolan used a mapping program to tour homes in the neighborhood. He thinks the neighborhood is eclectic, possessing a variety of building styles and dormers. He's stepped the side of the dormers to break up the massing. The ridge height is unchanged from the previous iteration.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks Mr. Nolan if he's verified that the changes comply with the ZBL's definition of half story.

(Bill Nolan) Mr. Nolan says he's spoken with the building inspector, and the changes to qualify as a half story. Less than 50% of the roof has a height of 7' from the floor to the bottom of the rafters, and the roof pitch is 2:12.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment. There are no comments from the public.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein thinks the new plans did a good job at addressing concerns raised in the previous hearing.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon says he's walked around the area. The street is varied, with a lot of styles. He thinks these changes are sensitive to the existing neighborhood. It's also one of the first times we've been able to use the design guidelines, and have a project come out better as a result.

(Kevin Mills, ZBA) Mr. Mills agrees that this is an improvement.

Permit approved, 5--0.

Docket 3653 - 59 Mount Vernon Street

This is a continued hearing. This applicant is proposing a large addition in order to convert a single family home into a duplex. The hearing was continued so that members of the board could conduct site visits, in response to concerns raised by the public.

(David Whitney, Architect) Mr. Whitney says the design hasn't changed. He's reviewed the residential design guidelines, and says the proposed changes comply with them, as well as complying with the zoning bylaw.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein displays the plans, and walks through different elements of the proposal.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

(Harold Ball) Mr. Ball lives next door, on the downhill side. He says he'll be impacted by the addition, due to increased shadows and decreased sunlight. The addition would be near to where his deck is.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore asks a question about the tree canopy on the property, and if the tree warden had approved a tree plan.

(David Whitney) Mr. Whitney says he hasn't spoken with the tree warden yet, because the project isn't that far along in the process. They plan to preserve all of the trees at the rear of the lot.

(Amy Goldstein) Ms. Goldstein is curious about Mr. Whitney's letter. She asks what the incentive for the large addition is.

(David Whitney) Mr. Whitney says the purpose of the addition is to create another home. It might be rented, or sold as a condo

(Amy Goldstein) Ms. Goldstein says they're creating a second unit to make money. Ms. Goldstein points out that Mr. Whitney's letter says that 59 Mt. Vernon street can't be seen from her house. She doesn't think that invalidates her concerns, because she walks by the property every day and will see the addition. She says there are a lot of assertions being made, and believes that the design guidelines disfavor large additions. She says the favorable recommendation in the planning board's memo doesn't constitute approval.

(Mark Rosenthal) Mr. Rosenthal says the proposed use should match existing uses, and a lot of people were upset when 55 Mt. Vernon Street was built. He asks if the board believes this is in scale with other properties.

There's no further comment from the public.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon says he spent quite a bit of time walking around the neighborhood. The lots are unusually deep; in other areas of town, there'd be a roadway separating them. He's fascinated by how some of the lots were carved up so that homes could be built or in front of behind other homes. He thinks what's being done here is similar.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak agrees with Mr. Hanlon. With respect to the design guidelines, the addition isn't changing the street facade, isn't changing the spacing between buildings, and is designed to match the architectural details of the existing house. The existing garage will be torn down, and the rear of the addition will be where the rear of the garage is now. The changes will move the building mass to the center of the property, and the addition will be 1/2 story shorter than the existing house. It won't go back as far as 55 Mt. Vernon on the left, or 63 Mt. Vernon on the right. This is a two-family district, which our zoning bylaw defines as a district that's predominated by two-family dwellings and duplexes. That's literally how the bylaw defines the character of the district.

(Amy Goldstein) Ms. Goldstein thanks Mr. Hanlon for taking the time to understand the history of her neighborhood. She doesn't think it's okay to keep developing in a haphazard way.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon notes special permit criteria #6. He says that doesn't direct the ZBA to rewrite history. He believes the proposal is consistent with the history and integrity of the neighborhood.

Permit approved, 5--0.

Comprehensive permit for 1165R Mass Ave

This is a continued hearing of the 40B Comprehensive Permit for 1165R Mass Ave. Tonight's hearing will focus on wetlands, stormwater, and environmental considerations.

(Mary Winstanley O'Connor, Attorney for the applicant) Ms. Winstanley O'Connor notes that her office sent two letter to the board, responding to the Conservation Commission, and to BETA's peer review. She says it will not be economic, feasible, or sensible to change the building layout around Ryder Brook. They aren't planning to add any stormwater infrastructure under Ryder Street. Parking along the Ryder street driveway is essential, and it's been used that way for 75 years. She notes that buildings behind 1165R are land-locked, and have easements for access. Ms. Winstanley O'Connor says they haven't commented on waivers yet; they'll pursue the waivers until they know for sure that they won't be needed.

(Don Wells, ?) Mr. Wells says the site is highly developed with little green space. Mill Brook runs through the site, and 200' on either side is riverfront area. The state exempts historic mill buildings from the riverfront; part of the site is exempt, and part is not.

They're proposing to lengthen and relocate Ryder Brook, and to make it a more wildlife-friendly corridor. Ryder Brook is not a jurisdictional stream under state law, because there are no upland wetlands. Under local bylaws, it is a jurisdictional stream. The existing brook is 120' long, and the relocation will increase this to 200'. It will add stream bed and a larger vegetated area around the brook. Most of the existing vegetation is invasive, and the current brook is surrounded by parking lots. Mr. Wells says they intend to plant native plants when relocating the brook.

(Randy Miron, Bohler) Mr. Miron says they wouldn't be able to provide enough parking spaces if the current position of Ryder Brook is maintained. The brook receives mostly sheet flows from parking lot runoff. They're proposing to relocate the brook around the edge of the property, and then direct it to Mill Brook. This will decrease impervious area and runoff. Relocation will provide more area for habitat and plantings.

Mr. Miron says they've evaluated stormwater with NOAA 14+ precipitation data, and will treat runoff from all portions of the site.

(Kyle Zick, Landscape Architect) Mr. Zick says they'll add a path along Mill Brook and increase the amount of space available for planting. The site is currently 70% hardscape and 23% building, for a total of 93% impervious surface. The amount of pervious surface will increase from 7% to 21% of the site area.

Planting will consist of floodplain species, which are resistant to both drought and inundation. They've taken core logs at each bend in the proposed relocation, and will reinforce the brook with plantings and shrubs.

(Laura Krause, BETA) Ms. Krause notes that some of the plantings will require a lot of water, and she'd like to see more rationale given for the species choices. When looking at stormwater improvements, she sees that several local bylaws are close to being met, and they may not need waivers. She'd like to see a set of monitoring protocols for the stream restoration.

(Bill McGrath, BETA) Mr. McGrath has reviewed most of the new design, and thinks it's far superior to the previous iteration. The relocation of Ryder Brook has stormwater benefits, and it will be directed through a water quality structure. He's satisfied with the big picture, but may have additional technical comments to make, such as water quality controls and grading changes. The applicant needs to confirm that new outflows to Mill Brook will be clean runoff.

(Susan Chapnick, Conservation Commission Chair) Ms. Chapnick notes that the Conservation Commission provided a letter to the ZBA, but has not been able to review the applicant's response. The Commission will discuss this at working session this Thursday night.

The commission previously recommended that no waivers be given, and that recommendation still stands. She thinks we'll be able to come to an agreement on conditions.

The commission recommended enhancements to the riverfront area and Ms. Chapnick is pleased to see them incorporated into the plans. She'd like to see green space improvements in area 1. She's pleased to see NOAA 14+ precipitation data used. She's not sure if there will be parking in the 25' buffer around Mill Brook. The commission hasn't reviewed the vegetation and planting plans yet. She appreciates that the applicants have provided an alternatives analysis, but the commission hasn't reviewed it yet.

(Steve Revilak, ZBA) Mr. Revilak asks several questions about the contour diagram for the Ryder Brook relocation, and the connection to Ryder Brook.

The relocated brook will be 4' deep and 3' wide.

(Steve Revilak, ZBA) Mr. Revilak says he understands the the bridge over Mill Brook will be located above the 100 year base flood elevation. He asks how far.

The bridge will be located above the 100 year base flood elevations, but the specific plans have yet to be worked out.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

(Steve Moore) As a member of the tree committee, Mr. Moore applauds the landscaping plans. He asks if Ryder Brook is a perennial stream.

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick says it's not a perennial stream. It's an intermittent stream that's not protected by state laws, but it is protected by local bylaws.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore says that intermittent streams aren't a good source of irrigation water. He asks if the applicants plan to use irrigation on their plantings.

(Kyle Zick) Mr. Zick says they plan to use irrigation.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore asks what percentage of the new trees will be large shade trees.

(Kyle Zick) Mr. Zick says there will be a mixture of trees. The majority will be large shade trees, with some understory trees.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore asks how the conveyance pipes will be kept clean.

(Randy Miron) Mr. Miron says they'll install a rack at the entrance to the conveyance pipe, in order to prevent debris from entering. Cleaning will be part of the operational and maintenance plan.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore says that trash screen along Mill Brook tend to clog up, and it's important to keep them clean.

(Alex Tee) Mr. Tee says this sounds like a good plan. He asks if something can be done to the landscaping along the west driveway, because there's little planting there.

(Kyle Zick) Mr. Zick says the driveway is a constrained space, and they are trying to maximize planting. The driveway is required for site access, and there are easements which can't be blocked.

(Randy Miron) Mr. Miron says that entire area is impervious, and they are planning to reduce existing sheet runoff into the brook.

There are no further comments from the public.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks how far along Ryder street will the drainage system extend.

(Randy Miron) Mr. Miron shows the location on the plans.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak says he visited the site after the last hearing on traffic and circulation, in order to take a closer look at Ryder Street and the west driveway. He'd like to state some observations.

Mr. Revilak visited the area on a bicycle and tried the various ingress and egress routes. Bicycles are smaller, slower, and more vulnerable vehicles, which are more sensitive to traffic. He agrees with having bicycle traffic enter and leave on the west driveway. That provides convenient access to the minuteman, and a cyclist that needs to head east on Mass Ave will have the option of using a crosswalk to get to the other side of the Mass Ave intersection.

Mr. Revilak suggests a no parking restriction in front of 9 Ryder, if the applicants are able to do that. Parked cars in front of 9 Ryder obstruct visibility to the west driveway. In addition, the encroachment on the other side of the street creates something of a pinch point.

Mr. Revilak doesn't see a problem with two-way bicycle traffic and one-way auto traffic on the west driveway. He'd feel comfortable using the full lane in the direction of traffic, and suggests a painted lane for counter-flow bike traffic, if there's room to do so.

Mr. Revilak recalls Mr. Tee's suggestion of making the west driveway entrance-only rather than exit-only. He thinks that's worth considering, in order to minimize lane crossings.

Finally, there's the condition of Ryder street. He understands that some of the residents oppose repaving because the poor condition of the road helps to slow down traffic. However, the poor condition of the road is also a hazard for cyclists. He suggests paving a half-lane closest to the curb as a compromise.

(Mary Winstanley O'Connor) Ms. Winstanley O'Connor says they won't be requesting a no-parking restriction in front of 9 Ryder, and aren't planning to take back the encroachment on the other side of the street.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein notes two upcoming meetings that may be of interest to abutters. The conservation commission has a working session scheduled for Thursday night at 7:30, and the Appleton Street redesign committee is meeting on Thursday night at 7:00pm.

Hearing continued to April 27th.

Meeting adjourned.