Zoning Board of Appeals - Mar 9th, 2021

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Meeting held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1287.

Approval of Minutes

The board approved minutes from their Feb 23rd meeting.

Approval of Decisions

The board approved written copies of three decisions:

  • Docket 3642 - 64 Brattle Street
  • Docket 3648 - 36 Surry Road
  • Docket 3649 - 123 Westminster Ave

Docket 3651 - 190--192 Mystic Valley Parkway

The petitioner owns a two-family home and wishes to add a second driveway to the property.

(John Bavuso, Petitioner) Mr. Bavuso represents the Nelson Group, who are builders based in Medford, MA. They specialize in revitalizing older homes. They're rebuilding a two-family home on the corner of Mystic Valley Parkway and Park Street, and they'd like to add a second driveway, for the convenience of the new owners.

The property currently has one driveway in the back of the house. They plan to replace the asphalt with permeable pavers. The second driveway would be in front of the house, on the Park Street side of the property. They originally thought they might need to remove a tree in order to do this, but have since determined that won't be necessary. They're talking with the tree warden about the best way to address root heaves on a nearby sidewalk.

(Tony Esposito, Civil Engineer) Mr. Esposito says the second driveway will not involve tree removal. He says there's 14' from the driveway to the telephone pole at the end of the street, and 16.6' to the curvature in the right of way line. He suggests the board include a special permit condition that the tree remain.

Mr. Klein asks about the amount of usable open space on the lot; there are several annotations on the permit application.

Mr. Klein asks how many spaces each driveway will have. Each driveway will have two spaces.

Mr. Klein asks about the width of the existing driveway, at the rear of the house. That driveway is thirteen feet wide.

The applicant says that second driveways aren't uncommon in this section of Arlington. He's provided several photographs for illustration.

Mr. Revilak asks if the property would be considered a corner lot, and subject to two front yard setbacks. Mr. Vallarelli says that it would.

The bylaw doesn't allow required parking spaces to be provided within the front yard setback. This property has a long front yard; while the proposed driveway would be in one of the front yards, it would not be within the front yard setback.

The bylaw allows parking in the longer front yard of a corner lot, but only if the lot is 6,000 square feet or less. This lot is larger than six thousand square feet, so the required parking cannot be located in either front yard.

Mr. Revilak thinks the driveway has to lead to a space in the left side yard. That yard is 14' wide, which is wide enough for parking, but it would require an awkward 90 degree turn.

There's discussion about whether the board has the authority to grant this request without a variance.

The submitted plans are somewhat outdated. The applicant originally used them when requesting a curb cut on Mystic Valley Parkway (a state road). The state denied that request, and it took them a long time to do so. The board and applicant discuss differences between the plan and the building. The applicant is amenable to continuing the hearing and providing updated plans.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore asks if the building was a two-family home when the permit was issued.

(John Bavuso) Mr. Bavuso says it was.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore asks if the second driveway was part of the plan.

(John Bavuso) Mr. Bavuso says no, the idea for the second driveway came later.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore thinks this is a dangerous intersection. Although he's not sure, he suspects the board would see a high volume of crashes if they looked at crash data.

(Susan Stamps) Ms. Stamps thinks thinks the proposed driveway is too close to the intersection, and thought the tree on the corner was coming down. She thinks the applicants should provide an updated plan, which shows the location of each tree.

(Gail Dubois) Ms. Dubois asks some questions about landscaping and the driveway.

(John Bavuso) Mr. Bavuso says they're planning to use permeable pavers for both driveways.

(Gail Dubois) Ms. Dubois lives next door, on Park Street. She says the old (rear) driveway was large enough to park four cars, and that the owners built an addition where two of the parking spaces used to be. She thinks that it's not realistic to have a driveway on Mystic Valley Parkway. She says that Coral Street intersects this area at a funny angle, and there's a lot of cut-through traffic. It's hard to say if a driveway on Park Street would be safe, but it would be safer than a driveway onto Mystic Valley Parkway. She's curious about how the house is going to look when it's done and asks if the owners are planning to put up a fence.

(John Bavuso) Mr. Bavuso offers to stop by and talk to Ms. Dubois about the fence.

(Katherine Hamilton) Ms. Hamilton lives right across the street. She thinks the new house is lovely and very nice. She says the street has a lot of children, parents, and dog walkers and worries about the impact of another driveway. She says the intersection is very dangerous and there have been at least three accidents in the 22 years she's lived there. She says that Park Street is very flat and takes you to the other side of town. It's not a bucolic place during commuting times. She thinks a semi-circle driveway that comes out on Mystic Valley Parkway would be nice, but the state didn't allow that.

There's no further comment from the public.

Mr. Bavuso says that safety is a big concern, and he wouldn't want to put the new owners in a dangerous situation.

Pat Hanlon thinks the board needs to see updated plans. He doesn't feel comfortable that we're avoiding welfare and safety issues raised by the public.

Mr. Bavuso says he'd be happy to come back before the board.

There's a question about the criteria that town engineering uses when granting permits for a curb cut. Mr. Vallarelli says they generally defer to the requirements of 5.3.12 Traffic Visibility.

Hearing continued until March 23rd.

Meeting adjourned.