Zoning Board of Appeals - May 11th, 2021

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Meeting conducted via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1318.

Approval of Minutes

The board approved minutes from their March 11, April 8, April 13, and April 20 meetings.

Approval of Decisions

The board approved the written decision for 59 Mt. Vernon Street.

Discussion of Proposed Revisions to Rules and Regulations

The chair asked to defer discussion of board rules and regulations until a later meeting.

Docket 3657 - 12 Christine Road

This is a special permit hearing involving projections into minimum yards; the applicant wishes to add a front porch to a home they're building on Christine Road.

(Fernando Carriero, Villandry Contracting) Mr. Carriero would like to add a farmers porch to the front of this single-family dwelling. The required front yard setback would allow a porch that's 4' deep. He'd prefer to make the porch 6' deep, so that it's more comfortable to sit on.

(Rick Vallarelli, Inspectional Services) Mr. Vallarelli says that a porch can protrude 25 square feet into a required setback by right; a larger protrusion requires a special permit.

(Pat Hanlon, ZBA) Mr. Hanlon notes that the house is under construction. He asks if the ZBA is limited to considering only the porch.

Our considerations will be limited to the porch.

(Steve Revilak, ZBA) Mr. Revilak wants to clarify the area of the projection.

The projection will be 1.9' deep by 20' wide, for a total of 38 square feet.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

(Robert Kotiuga) Mr. Kotiuga asks if the second floor will project out, in addition to the porch.

(Fernando Carriero) Mr. Carriero says no, it's just the porch.

There are no further public comments.

(Roger Dupont, ZBA) Mr. Dupont wants to clarify whether the porch is 5' or 6' deep.

(Fernando Carriero) Mr. Carriero says the porch will be 6' deep.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon says that the board usually references specific plan sheets when making a decision; the plan sheets submitted by the applicant aren't easily identifiable in that way. If we approve, we'll need to figure out how to identify the relevant plan sheets.

(Rick Vallarelli) Mr. Vallarelli suggests the sheet showing the 6' by 20' dimensions would be a suitable plan to reference.

(Aaron Ford, ZBA) Mr. Ford asks whether the request is for a 6' porch measured from the face of the building, or a 6' porch measured from the face of the foundation.

(Fernando Carriero) Mr. Carriero says it would be 6' from the face of the building.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak believes the petitioner needs to submit open space calculations for this project. The 38 square foot projection is a reduction in open space, albeit a small one. He's okay with making this a condition of the permit.

(Roger Dupont) Mr. Dupont suggests including language to specify that the 6' porch depth is measured from the front building wall.

(Christian Klein, ZBA Chair) Mr. Klein suggests referencing the plan via file name and page number.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon asks Mr. Carriero to title plan pages in the future.

Approved with conditions, 5--0.

Docket 3655 - 34 Marathon Street

The applicants would like to add a pair of dormers to their home at 34 Marathon Street, which is a non-conforming property.

(Frank McGovern, Owner) Mr. McGovern's daughter lives in the upper unit of their two-family home. They'd like to build two dormers, in order to allow a bathroom and work area on the third floor. They're also planning to re-side and re-shingle the home.

(Kevin Mills, ZBA) Mr. Mills asks if the applicant has provided an accurate accounting of space less that 7' in height on the third floor.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein says that information is provided on the dimensional worksheet, but it's not explicitly shown on the plans.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon notes that the dimensional worksheet references the old half-story height of 7' 3", rather than the current height of 7' -- it's an old form. He thinks the third floor area needs to be verified. He's asks what would happen if the board approved the permit with conditions, and then the applicant discovered they couldn't meet them.

(Rick Vallarelli) Mr. Vallarelli says the board only has to consider usable open space in this application. He believes inspectional services can deal with the other aspects.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak would like to confirm that there's currently no usable open space on the property. He sees that the property has a yard in the rear, but without yard dimensions, it's not obvious whether it's large enough to have usable open space. He believes the usable open space values on the dimensional worksheet are implausibly large for a lot of this size.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein says the board also needs calculations identifying the the third floor area that's greater than 7' in height.

(Rick Vallarelli) Mr. Vallarelli says he'll work with the applicants to provide dimensional information the board requested.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

(Nicole Weber) Ms. Weber asks about the way the board is treating open space. It sounds like not having open space would allow someone to build a skyscraper.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak explains that there are several criteria for usable open space: it has to be free of vehicles and parking, it has to be fairly flat, and it has to have a minimum horizontal dimension of 25'. Usable open space is measured as a percentage of gross floor area, so that larger buildings require more usable open space.

If a property doesn't have a yard that meets these requirements, then it's non-conforming and has 0% usable open space. If an applicant has 0% usable open space before an alteration and 0% afterwards, then the board's precedent is to treat that as not increasing the non-conformity.

Lack of usable open space doesn't allow someone to build a skyscraper. For example, there's a 35' height limit in single- and two-family districts. Properties without usable open space are usually small parcels. Lack of usable open space won't let someone build a skyscraper, but it can allow them to add a dormer.

Hearing continued until May 25th.

Docket 3656 - 53 Pine Ridge Road

This is a special permit hearing for a large addition to a single-family home.

(David Whitney, Architect) Mr. Whitney says the new owners of 53 Pine Ridge Road would like to add a large addition to their home. The goal is to make the house a bigger and better version of itself.

The existing detached garage will be removed, and the front driveway will be curved in order to preserve a large tree at the front of the property. They'll reconfigure the front stairs, so that they don't protrude as far into the front yard. The new stairs will be faced with stone, to match the existing stone foundation. The addition will match the details of the existing house.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak visited the property last weekend, and noticed a chain link fence between the house and the garage. He wants to verify that the fence doesn't run along the property line.

(David Whitney) Mr. Whitney says the fence is confusing. It runs through the middle of the property, and the property line is on the other side of the garage.

(Kevin Mills) Mr. Mills asks about how the front elevation of the building will change.

(David Whitney) Mr. Whitney says that the front of the building has two gambrels, and they'll be replaced with a single gambrel.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks about the large tree in the side yard, to the right of the house.

(David Whitney) Mr. Whitney says that tree will have to come down. It's either in the footprint of the proposed addition, or so close that it would be in danger of the construction work.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore applauds the desire to maintain the large tree in front of the house. He believes it's either a protected tree or a street tree. He asks if the applicants have talked to the tree warden about the tree on the side.

(David Whitney) Mr. Whitney says they haven't talked to the tree warden yet.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore appreciates the care being taken around the trees.

(Juliet Fishman(?)) Ms. Fishman asks if there will be blasting, and will that affect the neighbors.

(David Whitney) Mr. Whitney says they won't know until they start digging. He thinks that chipping will be the first step, and blasting would be a last resort.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks what sort of abutter notifications would be necessary.

(Rick Vallarelli) Mr. Vallarelli says the good neighbor agreement notifications would apply.

(Terry Shaller) Mr. Shaller lives next door, and he has a number of concerns. He's worried about the construction project itself, and says that other neighbors are too. He doesn't have any particular questions, just a series of concerns about construction, and potential damage that might result from construction.

(Marc Demaree) Mr. Demaree says he wrote a letter to the board, and he's got lots of concerns about construction. Pine Ridge Road is a private way and there are no shoulders or sidewalks. It's a through-way for traffic and the sight lines aren't great. He says the neighborhood struggles with small construction projects and kids walk along the street to school. He thinks there will be lots of contractors and wants to know about construction and traffic controls.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks about requirements for construction work.

(Rick Vallarelli) Mr. Vallarelli says this project is large enough to require a construction control agreement. It will cover start and end times of work and a list of other aspects. The contractor is responsible upholding the conditions in this document.

(John Morris) Mr. Morris asks where one can find a copy of the good neighbor agreement and construction control agreement.

(Rick Vallarelli) Mr. Vallarelli says they're on the town website. He also offers to email copies to Mr. Morris.

(John Morris) Mr. Morris asks when work will start, and how long it will last.

(David Whitney) Mr. Whitney believes that construction won't start for several months. Once it starts, he'd expect the work to take 6--8 months. Once the addition is framed, most of the work will be inside, and should be less disruptive.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon thinks that one of the most important parts of these meetings is they way they break ice between neighbors. He hopes the owners and abutters can communicate with one another and work things out.

(David Whitney) Mr. Whitney says they plan to contact abutters before any work begins.

(Lauren Sonalkar) Mr. Sonalkar thinks the design looks really good. He understands there will be some pain during construction. He's had conversations with the owner and has faith it will be done right.

(Andy Takats) Mr. Takats is glad these concerns were surfaced. He thanks the new owners for getting rid of the chain link fence.

(Marc Demaree) Mr. Demaree asks who will be responsible for traffic control. He's concerned about contractors parking on the road.

(Rick Vallarelli) Mr. Vallarelli says there's no law that prevents contractors from parking on the street.

(Terry Shaller) Mr. Shaller welcomes the suggestion for dialog with the new homeowners. He does welcome the new neighbors.

(Nicole Weber) Ms. Weber says that climate change is happening right now, and we need to save old trees.

(Roger Dupont) Mr. Dupont suggests that the applicants meet with the abutter to the right, to talk about how to avoid damage to their property when the garage is removed.

There's discussion about how to handle contractor parking during construction.

Permit approved with conditions.

Upcoming Meetings

  • 5/13. Hearing for Thorndike Place
  • 5/18. Hearing for 1165R Mass Ave
  • 5/20. Close of hearing for Thorndike Place
  • 5/25. Regular hearings.
  • 6/1. 1165R Mass Ave
  • 7/2. Close of hearing for 1165R Mass Ave

Meeting adjourned.