Zoning Board of Appeals - Apr 27th, 2021

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Meeting held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1322.

Last night, town meeting adopted a resolution that all board and committee meetings begin with a land acknowledgment. Chairman Klein reads the acknowledgment contained in the resolution.

Docket 3652 - 41--43 Fairmont Street

The board approves the written decision for Docket 3652, 41--43 Fairmont Street.

Election of Officers

Christian Klein is elected Chair. Pat Hanlon is elected vice-chair.

Board Rules

The board discusses a set of proposed amendments to board rules. The rule changes will require projects that need a tree plan to have it accepted before coming before the board. The amended rules would also reference the residential design guidelines.

(Pat Hanlon, ZBA) Mr. Hanlon notes that several recent applicants didn't receive copies of the planning department memos for their projects. He suggests having the rules reference planning department memos, so that applicants are aware of them.

This item was for discussion on proposed rule changes. We're not voting on them tonight.

Docket 3651 - 190--192 Mystic Valley Parkway

The proponent is seeking a special permit, to add a second driveway to a two-family dwelling located at 190--192 Mystic Valley Parkway.

(John Bavuso, Proponent) Mr. Bavuso summarizes the project. They're requesting a curb cut for a second driveway on Park Street. Their initial preference was to have the second driveway on Mystic Valley Parkway, but MassDOT denied their request for a curb cut, on belief that there was sufficient space on Park Street. He's provided the board with letters from traffic engineers and civil engineers, along with other letters of support.

(Steve Revilak, ZBA) Mr. Revilak asks about the size of the off-street space alongside the house. He wants to make sure it meets the required size.

The parking space will be 8.5' by 18', which meets the size requirement.

There's discussion about the bylaw's requirement for a vegetated buffer.

(Roger Dupont, ZBA) Mr. Dupont is concerned about occupants backing out of the second driveway, rather than pulling out. He thinks the request for a second driveway is coming late in the process. He's also concerned that an addition to the rear of the building removed parking spaces that previously existed.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak asks: if Mr. Bavuso was given permission for a curb cut on Mystic Valley Parkway, would he still have to come before this board for a special permit?

(Rick Vallarelli, Board Administrator) Mr. Vallarelli says yes, a special permit is required, regardless of where the second driveway is located.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon asks if the board would be concerned about occupants backing out onto Mystic Valley Parkway.

(John Bavuso) Mr. Bavuso said that he wouldn't be contemplating a turnaround, if he'd gotten permission for a curb cut on the parkway.

(Christian Klein, ZBA Chair) Mr. Klein asks if the sewer easement poses a challenge for the second driveway.

(John Bavuso) Mr. Bavuso doesn't believe so. He's planning to use paving stones for the driveway; these could be picked up and moved, if someone needed access to the sewer line. He believes that MDC is the easement holder.

There's another question about a vegetated buffer along the side yard, and whether a fence would be an acceptable substitute. Mr. Bavuso says the yard is 14' wide, so there is room for a planting strip.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore asks what would stop the turnaround portion of the driveway from being used as a second parking space. He thinks nothing would prevent someone from parking there.

(Chris Loreti) Mr. Loreti believes that a large addition was added to the rear of the building, where there used to be a deck. He thinks the board should deny this request, and that corner lots should not be allowed to have two driveways on the same street. He says he made a public records request for building permit plans, but hasn't received them.

There's no further comment from the public.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon asks if the applicant has done an analysis of usable open space, with the modifications to the proposed second driveway.

It appears they'll have around 1,358 square feet of usable open space, but the gross floor area of the structure would require 1,479 square feet.

There's discussion about whether additional parking could be added at the rear of the building.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon thinks the board doesn't have the discretion to approve this permit, without being satisfied that the usable open space requirements are met. He thinks the second driveway won't pose a problem for safety, but is disappointed that it surrounds the house like a moat.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak also believes the driveway won't be a safety issue. The town's Transportation Fact Book has a heat map of automobile crashes. Practically every intersection between Warren Street and Mystic Valley parkway has had 1--10 crashes during the last ten years. This intersection had three, so it seems no more dangerous than any other intersection in this area of town.

He agrees with Mr. Hanlon's comment about the driveway surrounding the house like a moat, but that's what our zoning bylaw requires in this situation. It's a corner lot with two front yards, and off street parking isn't permitted in either front yard.

However, it appears there isn't enough usable open space, and Mr. Revilak thinks the board can't grant the permit because of that.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein believes additional vehicles could be accommodated in the rear. A two-family dwelling requires two parking spaces; the two required spaces are in the rear, but they're tandem. He thinks the driveway leading to these spaces could be wide enough for another vehicle, without having to park in tandem behind the two required spaces. He's not in favor of granting a special permit.

(John Bavuso) Mr. Bavuso asks to withdraw his special permit application.

The board votes to accept the withdrawal, without prejudice.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon thinks there's a list of things that didn't go right with this application, partially because the applicant got caught between the state and the town. And, because our parking regulations are a mess.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak agrees with Mr. Hanlon, with respect to our parking regulations being a mess. Ever since we heard the Docket for 150 Summer Street, he's wanted to ask Mr. Klein to schedule a discussion of parking regulations, and whether we might want to propose amendments. He's held off on this request, because the board has been busy with two comprehensive permit applications. Since the topic has come up, Mr. Revilak asks if such a discussion could be scheduled for sometime in the future.

1165R Mass Ave Comprehensive Permit

The applicant is still working on project revisions, and has asked the board to continue the hearing.

The board votes to continue the hearing until May 18th.

Future Meetings

Mr. Klein reads off a list of upcoming meeting dates.

  • May 10. Materials due for Thorndike Place (but no hearing that evening).
  • May 11. Regular hearings, for three new dockets.
  • May 13. Thorndike Place.
  • May 18. 1165R Mass Ave
  • May 20. Close of Thorndike place hearings
  • May 25. Regular Hearing
  • Jun 1. 1165R Mass Ave
  • Jul 2. Close of 1165R Mass Ave hearings

Executive Session

The board enters executive session to discuss litigation strategy with respect to Docket 3642 - 64 Brattle Street.

Meeting adjourns from executive session.