Zoning Board of Appeals - Oct 12th, 2021

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Meeting held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1397.

Docket 3666 - 14-16 Egerton Road

The applicant was unable to attend tonight's hearing. The board votes to continue the hearing to October 26th.

Docket 3667 - 18 Heard Road

The applicant wishes to replace a small open porch with a mud room and new open porch.

(Joseph Luna, representing the Applicant) Mr. Luna says the property has an existing open porch. They're proposing to remove this, add a 37 square foot mudroom, and a new covered porch. The new mudroom and porch would project 8.5 feet into the required front setback. The parcel contains a single-family home and the use will not change. The new porch will have the same architectural style as the existing one, but will be a little wider.

(Steve Revilak, ZBA) Mr. Revilak notes that this docket was advertised as a special permit, but the applicant filed forms for a variance. He'd like clarification on whether the applicant is seeking a special permit or a variance.

(Rick Vallarelli, ZBA Administrator) Mr. Vallarelli says they're seeking a special permit, under section 5.3.9(A) of the zoning bylaw.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore is a member of the tree committee. He asks if any trees will be affected by the addition of the mudroom.

(Christian Klein, ZBA Chair) Mr. Klein says there are no trees in the vicinity of the proposed mudroom, but there is a street tree in front of the property.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore requests that the applicants take steps to protect the street tree during construction.

There's no further comment from the public.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein proposes a condition that the mudroom addition not be considered part of the building foundation.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak proposes a condition that the open porch remain open in perpetuity.

(Roger Dupont, ZBA) Mr. Dupont suggests a condition that the applicant comply with public works regulations regarding tree protection.

(Pat Hanlon, ZBA) Mr. Hanlon wonders if the board should add a standard condition of protecting trees during construction.

(Rick Vallarelli) Mr. Vallarelli tells the board that inspectional services recently revised their building permit application process. Now, tree warden sign-off is part of issuing a building permit.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore says that's excellent news.

Special permit approved, 5--0.

Approval of Decisions

The board approves the written decision for 53 Marathon St, 5--0.

Docket 3668 - 125-127 Webster Street

The applicant owns a two-family home. They'd like to add dormers to their third floor, and are seeking a variance from the zoning bylaw requirements for a half-story.

(Bruce McKenna, Applicant) Mr. McKenna says he wants to raise the roof of his house so his son and daughter in-law can move in. It's a two-family home.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks if the third floor is currently non-conforming (with respect to the definition of half-story).

(Bruce McKenna) Mr. McKenna says it's currently non-conforming.

(Rick Vallarelli) Mr. Vallarelli says the applicant is asking for a third story, by definition.

(Pat Hanlon, ZBA) Based on the planning department's memo, Mr. Hanlon gathers that variance criteria hasn't been submitted with the application.

(Bruce McKenna) Mr. McKenna says he's considering putting an ADU into the attic, and asks if that's a consideration.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak asks for clarification on whether this is a variance application or a special permit application. The hearing was advertised as a variance, but the application forms are for a special permit. Mr. Revilak notes that a special permit to alter a non-conforming structure is very different than a variance -- the two have completely different sets of criteria.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon reads the variance criteria from the state zoning act. Based on what he's heard so far, he suspects the board would be unlikely to grant a variance.

(Roger Dupont) Mr. Dupont feels that the 50% floor area requirement (for half-stories) should apply to living area. There should be a distinction between area that's occupied and area that's not.

There's discussion about whether this could be handled as a non-conforming structure (if there is, in fact, a pre-existing non-conformity).

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon feels that the first question that needs to be answered is whether the existing third story is non-conforming. He reiterates that the board will probably not be able to approve a variance for the third floor. He's not comfortable going forward with only a back-of-the-envelope guess as to whether it's conforming.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak asks if the applicant received a copy of the planning departments memo.

(Bruce McKenna) Mr. McKenna indicates that he hasn't received it.

Mr. Vallarelli says he'll email a copy to Mr. McKenna.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon notes that the planning department memo was written as if this were a variance application. However, if the building is currently non-conforming, then the board has the option to pursue a different route.

(Roger Dupont) Mr. Dupont is also unclear about whether the current building is non-conforming. He notes that variance criteria are very difficult to satisfy.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment. There are no comments.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks the applicant to work with Mr. Vallarelli to determine the area of the third floor that's more than 7' in height from the finished floor to the rafters. That figure will really determine how this case moves forward. Mr. Klein asks the applicant if they'd consider aligning the windows on the dormers with the windows on the second story below.

(Bruce McKenna) Mr. McKenna says they can be aligned.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein reiterates what the board is looking for: an accurate measurement of the area on the third floor, a corrected dimensional worksheet, and window alignment.

There's a motion to continue the hearing to October 26th. Passes, 5--0.

Docket 3669 - 43 Foxmeadow Lane

The applicant is renovating their single-family home and adding a second story. Part of their plans involve a front vestibule and covered decks that project into the front yard setback. They need a special permit for the vestibule and decks; the rest of the renovation is by-right.

(Ben Hathaway, Applicant) Mr. Hathaway is interested in adding covered decks and a foyer to the front of his home. These would exceed the 25 square foot projection that's allowed by right.

(Nicholas Preston, Architect) Mr. Preston says the renovation would add a mudroom, and new stairs going up from the side.

There are no questions from the board.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment. There's no comment from the public.

The board will impose the three standard conditions, and two others: the decks and mudroom will not be considered part of the building foundation, and the decks must remain open in perpetuity.

Special permit approved, 5--0.

Docket 3671 - 24 Ottawa Road

The applicants would like to add a two-story addition to the front of their home, and a mudroom in front of the addition. They require special permits due to existing non-conformities, and for projections into minimum yards.

(Brian Grady, Applicant) Mr. Grady's house has an open porch in front; he'd like to replace this with a two-story addition and add a mudroom. He's seeking relief for non-conformities with respect to usable open space and lot coverage. He'd like to build the addition to accommodate a growing family, so that the youngest child no longer needs to sleep in the parent's room.

Speaking to comments in the planning department memo, Mr. Grady said they considered shutters, but decided against them. None of the nearby homes have shutters around the windows. They also considered the roof-line options suggested in Principle B-3 of the residential design guidelines, but that ended up looking too boxy. That's why they'd prefer to go with a gabled roof on the addition.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein believes that Mr. Vallarelli re-did the lot coverage calculation, and came up with a different figure than what's on the application worksheet.

(Rick Vallarelli) Mr. Vallarelli says the existing lot coverage is 22% and would increase to 25%. So, it's actually conforming in that regard.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

(Dave Patterson) Mr. Patterson lives nearby, and he'd like to keep these neighbors around. He thinks the changes are in keeping with the neighborhood and will add value.

(Sanjay Newton) Mr. Newton hopes the board votes favorably on this application.

(Alex Kieft) Mr. Kieft also supports the proposed plans. He thinks the addition will be a consistent, positive change to the neighborhood.

(Bryan Kate) Mr. Kate believes the addition will be a functional and aesthetic improvement.

There's no further comment.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein suggests the three standard conditions, and that the mudroom not be considered part of the building foundation.

Permit approved, 5--0.

Upcoming Dates

Upcoming dates for the board are:

  • Oct 20. Thorndike Place.
  • Oct 21. Close of public hearing for Thorndike Place
  • Oct 26. Two or three hearings, but continuances.
  • Oct 28. Deliberate on Thorndike Place decision.
  • Nov 9. Deliberate on Thorndike Place decision.
  • Nov 23. Final vote on Thorndike Place decision.