Zoning Board of Appeals - Jun 1st, 2021

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Meeting held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1352.

1165R Mass Ave Comprehensive Permit

(Mary Winstanley O'Connor, Attorney for the petitioner) Ms. Winstanley O'Connor believes that her team's latest document submissions resolve the outstanding questions regarding wetlands, guest parking, landscaping, and traffic.

(Bill McGrath, BETA (peer review firm for the ZBA)) Mr. McGrath says that BETA's comments for the 130 unit design were addressed. There have been changes since then and the unit count reduced to 124. He has some questions about drainage in the new parking area, but that's the only item left to address.

(Randy Miron, Bohler) Mr. Miron believes that updated drainage plans have been submitted to the board. Runoff from that parking area will drain into a water quality control unit for treatment, and then discharge into Mill Brook.

(Laura Krause, BETA) Ms. Krause says she'll review the final plans to make sure all of the changes were carried through.

(Tyler de Ruiter, BETA) Mr. de Ruiter reviewed the applicant's updated parking memo and found it to be reasonable. BETA's response offers four suggestions, mainly in the area of how shared parking is managed.

(Susan Chapnick, Conservation Commission) Ms. Chapnick has no outstanding questions at the time. However, the Commission has not reviewed the latest plans as a group. They'll do so on Thursday evening, and may have additional comments afterwards. She says the Conservation Commission looks forward to working with BETA on project conditions.

(Christian Klein, ZBA Chair) Mr. Klein thinks it makes sense for the Conservation Commission to work directly with BETA on proposed conditions.

(Steve Revilak, ZBA) Mr. Revilak has a question about the overnight parking memo. It appears that guests will be eligible for overnight parking waivers on Mass Ave. He'd like to verify that the applicants confirmed this with the Arlington Police Department.

(Mary Winstanley O'Connor) Ms. Winstanley O'Connor said she confirmed this with Officer Ratteau in the Police Department.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein says he'd like to put out calls to various department heads, to see if they have additional concerns.

(Roger Dupont) Mr. Dupont asks if Workbar has ten parking spaces by contract.

(Bryan Zimolka, Nitsche Engineering) Mr. Zimolka confirms that Workbar has ten spaces contracted, but they're not all used.

(Roger Dupont) Mr. Dupont asks if unused spaces would be available for guests. He's under the impression they won't.

(Bryan Zimolka) Mr. Zimolka says that Mr. Dupont's impression is correct.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks if the bench and paver types are detailed anywhere on the plans.

(Kyle Zick, Landscape Architect) Mr. Zick says those details aren't in the current packet, but he can provide them.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein wants to ensure that the pavers comply with ADA standards and the bike racks comply with zoning requirements for bicycle parking. Mr. Klein asks about the distance that pole mounted fixtures will extend from the (utility?) poles.

(?) They'll be 30" away from the poles.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein wants to talk about the utility pole in the right of way near Mass Ave. He visited the site recently and saw that the pole was recently struck; there were parts of a headlight lying on the ground next to the pole. If that utility pole can't be moved, he's interested in protecting it, and discouraging parking in front of it. He asks if they'd consider extending the curb around the pole.

(? ICO Engineering) Verizon and Eversource own the poles, and Verizon sets new utility poles when needed. They have to have a dialog with Verizon about the utility pole. Verizon may take our suggestions, or they may have suggestions of their own. That dialog hasn't happened yet.

(Daniel St. Clair, Spaulding and Slye) Mr. St. Clair says they've tried to have conversations with Verizon, but haven't gotten one yet. They're considering a speed bump to slow traffic down. He's concerned about narrowing access in the right of way around the pole. They're thinking of wrapping the pole in reflective material, in order to make it more visible. He thinks Verizon will accept that.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

(Robert Annese) Mr. Annese thanks the Miraks for meeting with him on three occasions; they went out of their way to present plans to him. He has issues with the right of way. His was created in 1912 and Mr. Annese thinks the emphasis should be on protecting his property rather than the utility pole. He's had problems with trucks exiting the Mirak dealership, and getting stuck on the sidewalk. He's installed bollards to protect his fence and other parts of his property. Putting a curb around the pole will direct traffic further onto his right of way. There's between 13 and 15 feet from the curb to the pole, and the pole cuts into the right of way. He doesn't object to traffic, but he's concerned with construction vehicles coming down a 13' right of way. He's looking for some help. He'd like the project to go forward, but is concerned about protecting his property.

(Mary Winstanley O'Connor) Ms. Winstanley O'Connor says that traffic from the Mirak Hyundai is not part of this project; apartment traffic will only use this right of way as an entrance. They've offered to install no parking signs.

(Daniel St. Clair) Mr. St. Clair says they're planning to photograph conditions before any work starts. If they damage something, they'll fix it. Construction has aches and pains, and we'll work through that as much as possible.

(Alex Tee) Mr. Tee has a three part question. First, how many parking spaces below zoning will this project have. Second, how much risk is there in the shared parking. Third, how much effort has gone into finding extra parking. He asks if there's been any more development in terms of parking enforcement via lease agreements. For the second question, "risk" means running out of parking spaces.

(Daniel St. Clair) Mr. St. Clair says they'll have 128 parking spaces; zoning would require 160. So, 32 spaces below zoning. Eight spaces will be compact.

(Bryan Zimolka) Mr. Zimolka says the number of spaces was based on studies of similar apartments in Arlington, and Institute of Transportation Engineering standards.

(Tyler de Ruiter) Mr. de Ruiter agrees with Mr. Zimolka. He feels the comparison and evaluation are reasonable.

(Daniel St. Clair) Mr. St. Clair says that without additional units, a parking structure is not likely to be economic. And aesthetically, it probably won't look good.

(Mary Winstanley O'Connor) Regarding leases, Ms. Winstanley O'Connor says they cannot levy fines against tenants in affordable units. Instead they'll give warnings, and advise that further violations will be grounds for not having their lease renewed.

(Alex Tee) Mr. Tee says this isn't just a residential building; parking is being shared with Workbar. He asks how likely the shared aspect is to work.

(Tyler de Ruiter) Mr. de Ruiter says that shared parking management was the basis for the third comment in BETA's letter. They requested additional information on parking management for shared spaces.

(Daniel St. Clair) Mr. St. Clair says the building will have professional management. Their success depends on these rules working out and being followed. Parking spaces will be numbered and assigned by number. He says they can put together a management plan.

(Nicole Weber) Traffic and the timing of middle school students going to school is a sticking point for Ms. Weber. She asks if would be possible for her neighborhood to create a parking permit program, and at what point the rules would be recalibrated if things don't work out.

(Kelly Lynema, Planning Department) Ms. Lynema says she'll pose the parking permit question to Dan Amstutz, the Planning Department's transportation planner.

(Mary Winstanley O'Connor) Ms. Winstanley O'Connor says the town owns the odd side of Ryder Street, and it would be up to them to implement any kind of a parking permit program.

(Pat Hanlon, ZBA) Mr. Hanlon says that parking regulations are usually up to the Select Board, and we haven't heard anything from them about this project. He hopes we can initiate a conversation with the town.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak asks Mr. Hanlon to clarify who he meant by "the town".

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon says he was referring to the Select Board and various departments under the town manager.

(Kelly Lynema) Ms. Lynema says that the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) liaises with the Select Board, and she'll ask them about some of these issues.

(Mary Winstanley O'Connor) Ms. Winstanley O'Connor emphasizes that with regard to traffic safety, her clients have no control over businesses on the north side of Ryder St. and the traffic they generate. She also notes that the traffic studies showed no increase in the number of peak hour trips.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein says he's spoke with Mike Rademacher and Charlotte Milan from the DPW, and summarized prior feedback about the relocation of DPW's recycling program. He's planning to follow up with questions about bicycle and pedestrian safety on Ryder Street, between the bikeway and the project's driveway.

(Daniel St. Clair) Mr. St. Clair says the management company will handle recalibration. Again, it's in their interest to have a well-managed property.

(Nicole Weber) Ms. Weber acknowledges that the traffic and pedestrian concerns are more town issues, and go beyond this particular project. She thanks the applicants for stepping up.

(Mariah Contreras) Ms. Contreras says it feels like she's been a broken record regarding the construction timeline and construction access. She says the project has been advertised as cyclist- and pedestrian-friendly, and asks which consultants have been used for cyclist and pedestrian safety. What do they think the best practices are? She's also curious about the egress to Ryder. Trucks coming out of the Lalicata property often have trailers attached. She asks if the four guest parking spaces along the Ryder Street driveway are legitimate spaces.

(Randy Miron) Mr. Miron says they've modeled movements of the Lalicata vehicles and verified they'll have sufficient room.

(Mary Winstanley O'Connor) Ms. Winstanley O'Connor says they've used Nitsche as the engineering firm for transit.

(Daniel St. Clair) Mr. St. Clair says the architects also had input in these areas.

(Mariah Contreras) Ms. Contreras asks if the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee has reviewed this project. What hyper-local conversations have taken place? She doesn't like the bicycle sharrows on the Ryder Street driveway. She asks if people are aware that there could potentially be 100 cyclists coming in and out of this property.

(Mary Winstanley O'Connor) Ms. Winstanley O'Connor says the master plan talks about opening up the Mill Brook corridor to people. The master plan does not estimate how many people that would be.

(Kelly Lynema) Ms. Lynema says that Dan Amstutz has been aware of this project, and she'll ask him specifically about the configuration of the Ryder Street driveway.

(Paul Boutchia, (part of the applicant's team)) Mr. Boutchia presents a draft construction management plan. Construction vehicles will access the site from three points: Ryder Street, Mass Ave, and Quinn Road. They're planning to have two construction access gates, and the work site will be fenced off during construction. The work will take about 19 months, likely starting in October or November of this year. The work schedule will be 8:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Friday. In addition to a perimeter fence, they'll install erosion and sediment controls. There will be wayfinding signs for construction vehicle access, and to direct cyclists and pedestrians around the site.

They're planning to email a monthly newsletter to abutters. They'll provide contact numbers; these contact numbers will also be posted on signs around the site. They're also planning to hold periodic meetings with abutters.

They've leased 48 construction parking spaces from one of the other Mirak sites. Phase one will be demolition and abatement. The area behind building 1 will be used for staging. This phase will last for about three months.

(Missed the scope of work for phase 2.)

Phase 3 involves construction or renovation of buildings 1, 3, and 4 and the diversion of Ryder Brook. Building 2 will be constructed in phase 4.

(Mariah Contreras) Ms. Contreras says she's heard about these plans. She says that several survey trucks have come to the site, and they've been disruptive. Business trucks exit Ryder Street between 7:00 and 9:00 in the morning. She's concerned about traffic, when school children are meandering down the road

(Robert Annese) Mr. Annese asks if any of the buildings contain asbestos. And if so, what steps will be taken for dust control. He asks what thought has been given to his right of way with respect to construction vehicles.

(Paul Boutchia) Mr. Boutchia says there is asbestos; it will be abated according to law, and material will be hauled offsite for disposal. Buildings will be sprayed with water as they're being demolished, and that will control dust. They'll work with Mr. Annese regarding his right of way. They will need to use that driveway during construction, but want to coordinate. Mr. Boutchia believes the largest construction vehicle will be eight or nine feet wide.

(Robert Annese) Mr. Annese objects to having tractor trailers use the right of way during construction.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks if Mr. Annese would have similar concerns about moving trucks.

(Robert Annese) Mr. Annese says that as long as the moving trucks aren't eighteen wheelers and can traverse safely, then he's okay with them.

(Paul Boutchia) Mr. Boutchia says that steel delivery is the only time they'll need to use vehicles that size. Quinn Street would be another delivery option, but they'll have to analyze the turning radius first.

(Daniel St. Clair) Mr. St. Clair says they've analyzed the turning radius of the fire department's largest vehicle, and that fits.

(Nicole Weber) Ms. Weber asks that large vehicles not use Ryder Street. She also asks the the middle school principal be included in abutter notifications.

(Mariah Contreras) Ms. Contreras says that her house was hit seven times in four years, so this isn't 100% foolproof.

(Alex Tee) Mr. Tee says a tracked excavator came down Ryder Street last winter. He asks if tracked vehicles could avoid Ryder.

(Paul Boutchia) Mr. Boutchia says they'll try to avoid it, but there are times when construction vehicles will have to enter through Ryder Street. For example, when the bridge over Mill Brook is being replaced.

(Peter Maradianos) Mr. Maradianos says that any new traffic is a burden. Beck Road was just repaved, and he wouldn't support any extra traffic on it. He asks if something can be done to identify tenants. He wants to know how he can identify tenants that drive down Beck Road. He asks if stormwater will be drained into Mill Brook.

(Daniel St. Clair) Mr. St. Clair says he's sure that he'll hear from people on Beck Road if there's a notable increase in traffic. We'll be able to figure that out, though he doesn't see the rationale for wanting to drive that way.

(Peter Maradianos) Mr. Maradianos says it would be easier if there were a way to identify tenant vehicles; something that allows us to tell that they're tenants.

(Randy Miron) Mr. Miron explains how the storm water will collect water, treat it in water quality units, and release it to Mill Brook.

(Nicole Weber) Ms. Weber offers to install a video camera in her front yard, to monitor traffic leaving the site.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak emphasizes with the concerns about tracked vehicles. The town replaced the sidewalks on his street last year, which involved tracked excavators, ten-yard dump trucks, cement mixers, and a variety of other construction equipment. A heavy construction vehicle going by will make your house shake. The sidewalk project took a couple of months and he was working at home the whole time. For whatever it's worth, there was no damage to his home or foundation from weeks of heavy equipment driving by.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon comments the applicants for working with the abutters. This will be a process that involves cooperation.

(Aaron Ford, ZBA) Mr. Ford asks how many guest parking spaces there will be.

(Mary Winstanley O'Connor) Ms. Winstanley O'Connor says there will be six overnight parking spaces for guests.

(Aaron Ford) Mr. Ford asks if the applicants have considered making the first ten spaces in the garage guest parking spaces. He believes they could tighten up the parking layout to make up for the spaces in the rest of the garage.

(Joel Bargmann, Architect) Mr. Bargmann says that adding additional compact spaces would allow more cars to fit in the garage, because of the way the support columns are laid out.

(Mary Winstanley O'Connor) Ms. Winstanley O'Connor notes that there are 14 on-street spaces on Mass Ave, which could be utilized as guest parking via overnight parking waivers.

(Aaron Ford) Mr. Ford says the neighbors are assuming that guests will park on their street.

(Daniel St. Clair) Mr. St. Clair says they expect to have six guest spaces during the day, 18 at night, and 28 on weekends. Spaces will be individually assigned, so they'll have full control over the parking situation. Someone won't be able to (say) drive up, park, and take a walk along the brook.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks if the board or BETA has any specific questions for the applicant.

(Pat Hanlon) If possible, Mr. Hanlon would like documentation to be submitted three days before hearings. It can be difficult to digest when materials arrives shortly before hearings.

Hearing continued to June 15th at 7:30pm.

Approval of Decisions

The board approves the decision for Docket 3655 - 34 Marathon Street.

Upcoming Dates

  • 6/10. Thorndike Place
  • 6/15. 83 Palmer Street and 1165R Mass Ave
  • 6/24. Tentatively reserved for a Thorndike Place meeting (though it hasn't been scheduled yet)
  • 6/25. Close of hearing for Thorndike Place
  • 7/2. Close of 1165R Mass Ave