Zoning Board of Appeals - Feb 23rd, 2021
Meeting held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/MeetingView.aspx?MeetingID=1266.
Approval of Minutes
The board approved minutes from their Feb 16th meeting.
Docket 3648 - 36 Surry Road
The petitioners would like to add a two-story addition to their home, which has a number of pre-existing non-conformities.
(Akarsh Sheilendranath, Applicant) Mr. Sheilendranath says his family would like to add an addition to their home, which sits on a small non-conforming lot. The addition will provide a second bathroom and space for visiting family members. He says they love their house.
(Christian Klein, ZBA Chair) Mr. Klein displays the plans for the additions. He asks the petitioners to confirm that there will be no windows on the side of the addition.
(Isamu Kanda, Architect) Mr. Kanda says they've decided to add windows to the first floor of the addition. At its highest point, the addition will be 32' tall. The existing house has a gabled roof with dormers, and they wanted to avoid modifications to the existing roof elements.
(Akarsh Sheilendranath) Mr. Sheilendranath says the rear of the house faces south, and there will be a lot of windows on that wall.
(Isamu Kanda) Mr. Kanda says the addition will have a dark-colored vertical siding. It's intended to compliment the horizontal clapboard.
(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks Mr. Sheilendranath if he's shown these plans to his neighbors.
(Akarsh Sheilendranath) Mr. Sheilendranath says he has.
(Kevin Mills, ZBA) Mr. Mills asks about the minimum width of the driveway.
(Rick Vallarelli, ZBA Administrator) Mr. Vallarelli says that driveways need to be at least 7.5' wide, and parking spaces have to be 18' deep.
(Steve Revilak, ZBA) Mr. Revilak notes that driveways in a side yard need to have a vegetated buffer. He asks if there's an existing vegetated buffer next to the driveway. Mr. Revilak says he visited the site over the weekend, but with snow piled along the driveway, he couldn't tell if there was a buffer.
(Akarsh Sheilendranath) Mr. Sheilendranath says there is a row of shrubs planted next to the driveway.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak said that he'd noticed the stairs and the facade under the porch during his visit; they have darker materials with an emphasis on long horizontal lines. He thinks the addition emphasizes darker materials and long vertical lines. He asks if the architect was trying to play off those design elements.
(Isamu Kanda) Mr. Kanda says yes, that's what he was trying to do.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak reviewed the town's residential design guidelines after looking at the permit application. He thinks the addition de-emphasizes parking and helps to center the building on the property; the guidelines recommend both. He had some concerns about the lack of windows on the side of the addition, but understands that's been changed.
There are no comments from the public.
(Isamu Kanda) Mr. Kanda says they'd like to move the building 1' back on the lot, to avoid some structural issues when tying to the existing foundation. He asks if that should be taken up with the building inspectors.
(Rick Vallarelli) Mr. Vallarelli says that issue should be taken up here, with the board.
(Isamu Kanda) Mr. Kanda says the rear corner of the house is the area of concern. Moving the addition back one foot will allow them to avoid existing plumbing in that rear corner.
The board is okay with this request.
Permit approved, 5--0.
Docket 3649 - 123 Westminster Avenue
The petitioners are requesting a variance, in order to add a 96 square foot greenhouse to their property.
(Gustavo Pardo and Tina Halfpenny, Applicant) Mr. Pardo and Ms. Halfpenny would like to build a greenhouse. Mr. Pardo says the building is a historic home, under the jurisdiction of the town's historic commission. He says they started building the greenhouse last fall, but the historic commission made them stop work until they could obtain approval.
Mr. Pardo says the historic commission won't allow any structures in front of the house. The front right corner of the lot is the only available space, due to historic commission rules and the site's topography. The greenhouse would be located 12' from the front lot line and 2' 6" from the side. It will have a wood frame, poly-carbonate sides, and stand about 8' 6" tall.
(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein notes the property is on a corner lot. He asks if there are two front yards.
Yes, the property has two front yards.
(Aaron Ford, ZBA) Mr. Ford asks how the greenhouse will be anchored.
(Gustavo Pardo) Mr. Pardo says it will be pressure-treated 2x4s, anchored to concrete sonotubes.
(Roger Dupont, ZBA) Mr. Dupont asks about the classification of the building.
(Rick Vallarelli) Mr. Vallarelli says it would be considered an accessory structure, and those aren't allowed within the front yard setback.
(Roger Dupont) Mr. Dupont asks which specific dimensional regulations the variance would apply to.
The variance would apply to the 25' front setback, and to the 6' side yard setback.
The chair opens the hearing to public comment.
(Paul Wisner) Mr. Wisner lives next door. He's an enthusiastic supporter of the greenhouse.
There are no further comments from the public.
(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein reviews the four criteria for granting a variance, and the justifications provided in the application.
(Pat Hanlon, ZBA) Mr. Hanlon says he's okay with criteria 1, 3, and 4. He's having some difficulty with the justification for #2, and asks what the hardship is. He says that hardship has to be more than "the applicant won't be able to build what they want".
(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein says the shed could be moved to the back corner of the property, but that would involve the loss of the patio.
(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon says he accepts that theory. He thinks the board needs to consider these requirements in context; this is a small temporary structure rather than a large permanent one.
Variance approved, 5--0.
Comprehensive Permit - 1165R Mass Ave
This is the second hearing for 1165R Mass Ave's 40B Comprehensive permit application. The applicants will give an architectural presentation and the board will set dates and topics for subsequent hearings.
(Mary Winstanley O'Connor, attorney for the applicant) Ms. Winstanley O'Connor says this project was designed to meet goals stated in the Master Plan, Housing Production Plan, and numerous other plans developed by the town. She says they've also submitted shadow studies, as requested.
(Joel Bargmann, Architect) Mr. Bargmann says the project will total approximately 140,000 square feet. 107,000 square feet will be residential and 32,000 square feet will be devoted to garaging. There will be 11 surface and 124 garaged parking spaces. They plan to provide 114 bike parking spaces. There will be 31 studios, 56 one-bedroom, 32 two-bedroom, and 13 three-bedroom apartments. 33 of the apartments will be affordable and 97 will be market rate.
Mr. Bargmann shows a picture of the site plan. The plan includes a section of Ryder street, which he says is owned by the applicant. Mr. Bargmann makes a distinction between the sections of the site that were once part of a mill complex, and areas that were not. He says that former mill sites are governed by a different set of state regulations.
Traffic will enter from Mass Ave, move past Workbar, and flow into the site's main courtyard. Traffic will exit via Ryder Street or Quinn Road.
This redevelopment will add 18,600 square feet of pervious surface, along with a bio-swale to divert runoff. They plan to improve the walkway along Mill Brook, and make it an accessible path.
The entrance will have an accessible path that runs between Workbar and building 2. They'll make the entry road wider. They'll remove the covered walkway that's currently over the entrance, and limits clearance to 10' 4". The new entrance will be 22' wide with no overhead obstructions.
Five of the buildings will be preserved and restored; three will be removed.
They plan to restore building 1, but remove the loading dock and building adjacent to it. The engine room building has a two-story interior, which will be restored. Building 2 is in very poor condition, and has a garage that was built across Mill Brook. The elevation of the current site is 3' above the original foundation grade, which has contributed to water damage. The interior of building 2 has 6' 8" floors, which don't meet current code. Renovations would involve more than 30% of the building's assessed value and trigger a requirement for code compliance.
Mr. Bargmann shows slides of their shadow studies. Shadows of the new building will project toward the residential section of Ryder street. However, winter is the only time of the year where shadows will reach the street. Morning shadows in December will just catch the edge of Ryder Street.
The apartments will have several amenities: a conference center, a mail and package area, a lobby/lounge, a gym, and a private courtyard.
The new building's exterior will be mostly fiber cement paneling with some metal panels. They plan to use darker colors on the fourth floor, for mimic the look of a mansard roof. They're willing to provide material samples to the board.
They're planning to provide 114 spaces of indoor bike parking in the garage, and 22 short-term spaces outside. They'll include a bike repair room. In order to provide 114 spaces, they'll need to use stacked bicycle parking; so, they'll seeking a waiver of the requirement that bike parking can't require bicycles to be lifted.
The project includes several sustainable design features, and the applicants will submit a LEED checklist. The development will support cycling and it's close to Mass Ave buses. The buildings will be well insulated, have lots of windows and daylight, and low-VOC materials will be used for the construction. They plan to have EV chargers and low-flush/low-flow plumbing fixtures. The building envelope will be high performance and 50% of construction waste will be diverted. The storm water management plan should achieve 80% TSS removal.
(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks if they plan to maintain the large chimney on the site.
(Joel Bargmann) Mr. Bargmann says they aren't going to maintain the chimney.
(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks which parts of the site will be open to the public.
(Joel Bargmann) Mr. Bargmann says the pathway along the brook and the main courtyard will be public. The amenity courtyard will be private.
(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks if the surrounding properties have the same owner.
(Mary Winstanley O'Connor) Ms. Winstanley O'Connor says the applicants own Workbar; other surrounding parcels are under different ownership.
(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks about the first floor cladding on building 2.
(Joel Bargmann) Mr. Bargmann says the building will be covered in cementaceous panels. The columns will be cladded in metal or fiber cement.
(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein wonders if metal cladding might be too modern-looking.
Mr. Klein points out that Arlington's bicycle parking regulations require storage fixtures that don't need the bicycle to be lifted off the ground.
(Joel Bargmann) Mr. Bargmann says he's used this kind of stacked fixture at other projects with good results.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak has a question regarding the stacked fixtures. How high would they require a bicycle to be lifted?
(Joel Bargmann) Mr. Bargmann says the upper racks are a little more than handlebar height.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak asks if there will be spaces large enough for cargo bikes.
(Joel Bargmann) Mr. Bargmann says yes.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak asks about facilities for charging e-bikes.
(Joel Bargmann) Mr. Bargmann says that most e-bikes have removable batteries. A rider would take the battery to their room and charge it there.
(Kevin Mills) Mr. Mills asks about heating.
(Joel Bargmann) Mr. Bargmann says there's looking at instant/on-demand boilers for heat and hot water. He says they'd be powered by natural gas.
(Kevin Mills) Mr. Mills asks about the status of Arlington's prohibition on fossil fuel heating infrastructure.
(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon says that town meeting passed a home rule petition, which needs to be authorized by the legislature in order to take effect. He says it's not binding until that happens. He says the Clean Energy Future Committee has been designing net zero policies for the town, but they won't be legal requirements until we get legislation. The underlying policies are a reaction to climate change. He suggests that the applicants might want to look into this, to conform with town policies.
(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks if BETA has any questions.
(Note: BETA is the town's peer review consultant)
(Marta Nover, BETA) Ms. Nover says they don't have any questions yet. They're still in the process of reviewing the current submission.
(Susan Chapnick, Conservation Commission Chair) Ms. Chapnick says the Conservation Commission is looking forward to assisting and advising the ZBA. They'll want to comment on the waiver request for treating Ryder Brook as a jurisdictional stream. She says that the Conservation Commission usually asks applicants to use the NOAA14+ precipitation model when designing stormwater management systems. She says the applicant and conservation commission had a working session in 2020. The Conservation commission suggested flipping the vegetated strip and pedestrian pathway, so that the vegetated strip was next to Mill Brook.
(Mary Winstanley O'Connor) Ms. Winstanley O'Connor says they are using the NOAA14+ precipitation models.
The chair opens the hearing to public comment.
(Ann LeRoyer) Ms. LeRoyer asks if there's a schedule for upcoming hearings.
(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein says that will be the board's next meeting topic.
There's no further public comment.
(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein shows the hearing schedule for the project. The dates and topics are
- 3/16. Traffic impacts
- 3/23. Stormwater, wetlands, and riverfront.
- 4/13. Additional topics
The ZBA's next meeting will be held on March 9th. That meeting will be devoted to residential matters.
Hearing continued to March 16th.