Zoning Board of Appeals - Aug 3rd, 2021

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Meeting held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1382.

Approval of Minutes

The board approved minutes from their May 13, 2021 meeting.

Comprehensive Permit - Thorndike Place

During the last two days, the board received a new set of project and engineering documents from the applicant, Arlington Land Realty. Tonight, the applicant's team will walk through the document submission, but without getting too deep into the substance. The board and BETA (peer-review consultants) would like time to review the materials before getting into the substance of the proposal.

(Christian Klein, ZBA Chair) Mr. Klein summarizes the prior hearing, where the board asked the applicant to provide a consolidated set of application materials. The last of these documents were delivered this afternoon. Mr. Klein asks the applicants to describe the materials they've submitted. He suggests the board receive documents tonight, set aside September 9th and September 28th as continuation dates.

(Stephanie Kiefer, Attorney for the applicant) Ms. Kiefer explains that there were two tranches of submittals, one on August 2nd and one earlier today. These include an updated waiver list, a narrative, responses to various peer review comments, civil plans, and vehicle turn analyses.

(Scott Vlasek, Architect) Mr. Vlasek submitted 18 pages of architectural drawings for the board's review. They've made some changes to the garage plan, so there will be 84 garaged parking spaces, eight of which will be handicapped accessible. They plan to install ten EV charging stations, and that number can be expanded in the future. Pages 8--9 contain floor plans for the duplex homes, pages 10--11 show duplex elevations, and 15--16 are new renderings of the senior living facility.

(John Hession, Civil Engineer) Mr. Hession submitted updated civil engineering materials and responses to BETA's peer-review comments. There are some changes to utilities, grading and drainage as a result. He's also been coordinating with the town's planning and fire departments.

The four parallel surface parking spaces were changed to six ninety-degree spaces. The new drawings include a bicycle storage area along the north side of the building, which will provide storage for fourteen bicycles.

Finally, there's a conservation parcel exhibit. Development will take place on 5.8 acres of the site, and the conservation parcel will be just under twelve acres, with permanent restrictions.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer points out that they're providing a total of 96 parking spaces on the site.

(Derek Roach, Traffic Engineer) Mr. Roach says Vanasse provided two letters: one in response to BETA's peer review comments, and the other in response to questions asked by the Chair. They've updated the trip generation summary, along with capacity and level of service analyses. These include new ITE demand generation calculations. He's also done Auto-Turn analyses to verify that emergency vehicles will be able to travel down Littlejohn St., even with cars parked on the road.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says they've also provided a project narrative and an updated waiver list.

(Shawn O'Rourke, ZBA) Mr. Rourke asks if they've provided an updated pro-forma.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer believes it's premature for the board to ask for a pro-forma at this point.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein believes that Mr. O'Rourke wants to make sure the applicants have been maintaining an updated pro-forma internally.

(Shawn O'Rourke) Mr. O'Rourke says he's asking because he wants to avoid surprises later.

(Paul Haverty, Legal Consultant for the town) Mr. Haverty suggests the applicant has run preliminary numbers and are comfortable with what they've seen. But not necessarily a full pro-forma. Without a draft decision, they don't have enough information to do a complete pro-forma.

(Roger Dupont, ZBA) Mr. Dupont asks about the project's letter of eligibility, and if the applicant is sure the new project will qualify for the subsidies detailed in the initial eligibility letter.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says the project has to go back to Mass Housing, once the ZBA has made a decision.

(Roger Dupont) Mr. Dupont asks what the application before the board is. The senior living project was presented in May. He'd like a commitment that if the applicant appeals, they'll appeal using the senior housing design. He's like the applicant to state, for the record, that they're going with senior living with services.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says the project narrative submitted earlier today clarifies that.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks: if the board's decision were appealed, what would the baseline narrative for the appeal be.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says at the present time, their plans would be to appeal with a project that consists of six duplexes and a 124 units of senior housing. That said, she would be remiss if she advised her client to give up any of their rights. They've put a lot of time and expense into this product, and want to continue negotiating in good faith.

(Paul Haverty) Mr. Haverty says the applicant has the right to change designs during the appeal process. However, they risk having the case remanded back to the board, if the board did not fully vet the design being appealed.

(Steve Revilak, ZBA) Mr. Revilak has a comment and a question. We've extended the public hearing process several times, by mutual agreement between this board and the applicant. If the applicants were intent on pursuing an earlier iteration, he suspects they could have done so by simply declining the board's request to continue. He asks Mr. Haverty if that's correct.

(Paul Haverty) Mr. Haverty says yes -- the applicant agreed to extend the hearing, and they've continued to make changes to the project.

(Emily Sullivan, Town Conservation Planner) Ms. Sullivan says the Conservation Commission will review the civil plans, resource area impacts, and conservation agreement.

(Pat Hanlon, ZBA) Mr. Hanlon hopes that people will speak up ASAP if they find anything missing from the latest document submissions. He wants any blanks to get filled in, so the board can make maximum use of its time next month.

(Marta Nover, BETA) Ms. Nover notes that a drainage report is supposed to be forthcoming by August 24th. She will let the board know if she finds anything missing.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon wants to ensure the Conservation Commission's meeting schedule will allow them to review the materials as a board.

(Emily Sullivan) Ms. Sullivan says the board has three meetings schedule between now and September 9th.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore is a member of the tree committee. He asks if the applicants will provide a tree plan.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Mr. Kiefer says their document submissions don't contain a tree plan. She suggests the board require a tree plan as a condition for getting a building permit.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein proposed continuing the hearing until September 9th, with September 28th as the following hearing date. He hopes the board can close the public hearing on that night. He asks board members to reserve October 5th, in the event another hearing is necessary.

The board needs to extend the public hearing period, and there's discussion about what date to extend to. Mr. Haverty suggests extending to at least 48 hours after the last planned hearing. The board and applicants decide on October 1st.

Motion to extend the public hearing period to Oct 1st passes.

Motion to continue the public hearing to September 9th passes.

Upcoming Dates

Upcoming dates for the board are:

  • Aug 24. Meeting to discuss 1165R Mass Ave decision
  • Sep 2. Meeting to discuss 1165R Mass Ave decision
  • Sep 9. Hearing for Thorndike Place
  • Sep 14. Regular special permit hearings.
  • Sep 28. Thorndike Place
  • Oct 1. Close of public hearing for Thorndike Place.

Meeting adjourned.