Zoning Board of Appeals - Nov 18th, 2021

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Meeting held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1473.

Comprehensive Permit - Thorndike Place

The board continues it's deliberation on the comprehensive permit decision for Thorndike Place. Special Counsel Paul Haverty was unable to attend tonight's meeting, and Town Counsel Doug Heim is here to advise the board on legal matters.

(Christian Klein, ZBA Chair) Mr. Klein opens by summarizing the close of the public hearing, the deliberations that have taken place so far, and the 40 day period that the board has to render a decision.

Waiver 32. One of the conditions modifies construction hours for the project. Waiver 32 involves the town bylaw (noise ordinance) that ordinarily limits construction hours. The applicant verbally requested this waiver during the final night of public hearing.

Finding 16.A. We'll use May 13, 2016 as the date the town's subsidized housing inventory was filed with DHCD.

Affordable Housing. Findings 22--24 cover affordable housing as a local concern, and the board chooses incorporate them.

Flooding and Wetlands. This section introduces flooding as a local concern, lists the applicant's summation of causes, and BETA's peer review of that summation. It also incorporates language the Conservation Commission suggested, which ties in to some of the conditions imposed.

Finding 26. This finding mentions a letter that the town received in 2015, which is the year before these permit proceedings opened. The letter was submitted to the board after the hearing opened and is part of the public record. We'll leave the mention.

Climate Change and Resiliency. This section mentions concerns raised by Arlington Land Trust's Weston and Samson report, and the motivation for raising the buildings above predicted 2070 sea level rise/storm surge levels. The section goes on to describe the town's net zero policies, and the goal of moving to all electric buildings.

BSC's October 4th memo suggested that the 12" stormwater drain under Dorothy road was in disrepair, or simply lacked the capacity to handle current rainfall events. The board doesn't recall what BETA said about this in their peer review, and we make a note to go back and check.

Condition D.32. This is a new condition, involving groundwater measurements and using the measurement data to refine the stormwater management system, if needed.

Traffic and Transportation. This is a new section provided by Mr. Hanlon, which assembled data from numerous items in the record. It goes into great detail about how the traffic studies were done and reviewed, and makes conclusion about the probable impact from this project. Mr. O'Rourke suggests mentioning the actual distances between the Project and the Alewife MBTA station.

The board wishes to recommend post-construction traffic monitoring, and if necessary, the implementation of traffic calming measures. This cannot be a condition, because any traffic calming would be done on public roadways, which are not under the applicant's control. But, we can recommend it as a future course of action.

Neighborhood compatibility. While the board had requested a row of duplexes to act as a "buffer" between the senior housing and existing residential neighborhood. The board believes this eases the transition, but acknowledges that the senior housing building is a significant departure from existing single- and two-family homes.

Construction Impacts. This section attempts to list construction concerns raised by residents during the course of the hearing. The board suggests adding items about communication with the public and staging for modular units.

General findings. The board discusses how to say that it believes the conditions imposed will not render the project uneconomic.

That's it for conditions. There are a few items to add and a couple of loose ends to tidy up; we'll attempt to do this on Monday.

There a motion to continue the hearing until Nov 22nd at 8:00pm. Motion passes, 7--0.

Upcoming Dates

Upcoming dates for the board are:

  • Nov 23rd. Four hearings + Thorndike Place (if needed)
  • Nov 30th. Last day to render a decision on Thorndike Place.
  • Dec 21st. Three hearings.

Meeting adjourned.