Zoning Board of Appeals - Oct 20th, 2021

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Meeting held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1423.

Comprehensive Permit - Thorndike Place

Tonight is scheduled to be the final night of the Thorndike Place comprehensive permit.

(Christian Klein, ZBA Chair) Mr. Klein starts by setting the context for tonight's meeting. The board reviewed a draft decision at the last hearing, and a number of people raised concerns about the number of tracked changes in the document. The applicant agreed to extend the public hearing period, so the board could assemble a "clean" decision draft for review. Tonight's hearing will focus on the new draft, and Mr. Klein asks that public comments specifically address material in the draft decision.

(Steve Revilak, ZBA) Mr. Revilak has questions about findings 64B and 65A. Both findings contain the language "proposed condition to be inserted at the appropriate place". He believe that conditions C.1(d) and C.1(e) address the subject matter, and he asks if there are recommendations for which language the board should prefer, or how to merge the sections together.

Marta Nover (BETA) looks through the relevant sections. Mr. Revilak acknowledges that this is a tough question to answer off the bat; he's fine with getting an answer later in the evening, after Ms. Nover has had time to review those sections.

(Pat Hanlon, ZBA) Mr. Hanlon said he worked on reconciling that part of the draft decision, and acknowledges that there's overlap. Different members of the ZBA worked on consolidating the suggested edits, but because of open meeting law, they couldn't collaborate during that process. He left the "proposed condition" language in the findings with the assumption that it could be moved into the appropriate place within the conditions at a later point in time.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein says the ZBA has a landscape plan for the development area, but not for the proposed conservation parcel. This is known. There are a number of questions regarding construction conditions, and those may need to be resolved during deliberations. There's also a waiver request from provisions of the sign bylaw, which is waiver 21. The applicant has requested a monument and a canopy sign, and several directional signs. Mr. Klein asks about the size of the monument sign.

(Stephanie Kiefer, Attorney for the applicant) Ms. Kiefer says they were planning on a 6' by 4' sign.

(Gwen Noyes, Oaktree) Ms. Noyes says they'd like a 24--25 square foot monument sign.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein says the 2016 sign bylaw allows directional signs of up to one square foot.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer asks the board to allow signs of up to two square feet, because the senior living building will have an older population, and a larger sign will allow for a bigger font.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon asks about the hours of construction given in condition E.16. The condition includes hours for weekends and holidays, and Mr. Hanlon asks if the applicant plans to work during those periods.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says they'd like to have that option. Working through weekends will speed the construction process. Ms. Kiefer believes these hours match the ones in the town's noise bylaw, and she's not sure that they've been modified for other projects. Weekend work might help to relieve some of the traffic on Lake Street.

(Arthur Klipfel, Oaktree) Mr. Klipfel says that an 8:00 am starting restriction will be the most onerous for construction workers; they'd prefer to start earlier, perhaps at 7:30, and leave around 4:00 pm. They may be able to adjust hours on weekends, and perhaps Sunday work isn't needed. He asks if these decisions have to be made tonight.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon notes that the board needs to receive evidence before the public hearing closes, and that we can't accept new evidence afterwards.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein confirms that the hours in E.16 come directly from town bylaws.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Mr. Kiefer would like to ask for a verbal waiver of hours, to allow work from 7:30 to 4:30. She believes that meets Mr. Klipfel's request, and may help to shift construction traffic away from peak traffic hours. She believes that reducing the length of construction would provide a benefit.

(Arthur Klipfel) Mr. Klipfel says he'd prefer 7:30 to 5:30, and giving up work on Sundays.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon says he'd be interested in hearing from the public on this subject, when we get to public comment.

(Arthur Klipfel) Mr. Klipfel says that a 6:00 pm stop time would be dangerous during winter. You'd really have to stop around 4:00 pm because of sunset.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein believes we also have to be cognizant of traffic while kids are heading to school.

(Gwen Noyes) Ms. Noyes asks if workers could arrive before 7:30, but not start work until 7:30.

(Arthur Klipfel) Mr. Klipfel says there will be police details, if there's anything that would be a danger to kids or parents.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer points to a memo that VAI submitted earlier today. They're proposing a pre-construction meeting to work out construction details.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon has a number of general questions about the traffic study. The method of analysis starts with background levels of traffic, and those numbers were gathered early on. They were adjusted for seasonality, in conjunction with TAC and BETA, correct?

(Scott Thornton, VAI) Mr. Thornton says that he worked with BETA to establish the scope of the study area, and what adjustment factors to apply. After that, he worked on the build vs no-build scenarios.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon remembers a conclusion that there would be some impact, but a relatively small amount.

(Scott Thornton) Mr. Thornton says that's generally correct. We anticipated the number of alternative (non-auto) mode trips, and that reduced the overall traffic counts. We found a small increase in delays at signalized intersections.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon says that VAI started with ITE equations, put in values for the project, and then adjusted for mode split. VAI and BETA agreed that mode split adjustments were necessary for the earlier TOD iteration, but there's a smaller mode split reduction for the senior housing. Senior housing has a smaller mode split adjustment due to the expectation that seniors might be less likely to use public transit. BETA disagreed with some of the adjustments, but the overall effect is small. And, the estimate is conservative because of the ITE land use code. Mr. Hanlon asks if that summary is correct.

(Scott Thornton) Mr. Thornton thinks that some mode split adjustment -- a small amount -- is appropriate. They used ITE Code 252 (Senior Housing, Attached), which assumes a certain amount of independence. ITE also has use code 253 (Congregate Care), and BETA indicated that might be more appropriate. The traffic study used code 252, because it gave a more conservative estimate of trips. Code 253 would have about 40% fewer trips than code 252. The ITE manual notes that some of the features proposed for this development are also used by congregate care facilities. Mr. Thornton thinks this project is somewhere between the two. With the TDM measures, the traffic levels might be more in line with congregate care.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon recalls the applicant saying they were expecting an older population, which would make a big difference in peak hour traffic changes. He'd like to understand why the applicants think the senior residents will be in their 70s and 80s.

(Gwen Noyes) Ms. Noyes says they've been in conversations with a likely property manager who's familiar with the area. His judgment is that the need is for senior housing for people in their 70s and 80s.

(Art Klipfel) Mr. Klipfel says the age designation is 62+. He believes that comes from men who have younger wives.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon asks if one usually looks at peak hour traffic for adjacent roadways when trying to estimate burden.

(Scott Thornton) Mr. Thornton answers in the affirmative.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon asks if the project will have a small effect on the peak traffic, because it's already high.

(Scott Thornton) Mr. Thornton says that's correct. Generally 8--16 trips per hour. With TDM measures, there may be fewer trips.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon asks if the 412 additional trips per day would apply to weekdays, with a smaller increase on weekends.

(Scott Thornton) Mr. Thornton says yes, the increase is 412 one-way trips during weekdays. The weekend increase will be less, but Mr. Thornton doesn't recall those numbers off hand.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon asks what the current traffic levels are.

(Scott Thornton) Mr. Thornton says he'd have to check.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein says the board received a number of emails concerning the disposition of the conservation parcel. Earlier documents stated an intention to have the conservation parcel owned by the town or a third party. He asks if they're planning to retain ownership.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says the applicants are proposing to retain ownership, but with a conservation restriction where they'd give up any future development rights. She says the owner felt that approach made more sense.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks if the change to ownership will make any substantial difference.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says there will be a difference in who owns the land, but it's similar with respect to development rights.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks who will be responsible for maintaining the conservation parcel.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says that maintenance responsibilities are usually spelled out in an agreement negotiated between the two parties.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks if the applicants intend to work with a third-party owner.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says yes, there is a conservation-minded entity that they hope to work with.

(Christian Klein) Regarding waiver request #6 (bonding), Mr. Klein says the Conservation Commission and BETA recommended bonding of $173,900.

(Marta Nover, BETA) Ms. Nover says that BETA looked at the areas to be restored, then applied calculations for vegetation density and earth work in order to calculate cost. This is for the development parcel, and the area where compensatory flood storage is proposed.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer thought the bonding applied to the conservation parcel too.

Mr. Klein displays the memo which recommended the bonding amounts.

(Susan Chapnick, Conservation Commission) Ms. Chapnick says the suggested bonding amount covers the area for rain gardens, compensatory flood storage, and wetland restoration inside the project area.

(Arthur Klipfel) Mr. Klipfel is fine with the proposed bonding amount. He expects the building department to review it.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer points out that the board asked for a $30,000 bond for 1165R Mass Ave, which involved the relocation of a stream. She questions the amount of the bond, relative to what was imposed for that project. She says the applicant is committed to doing the work.

(Marty Nover) Ms. Nover says this project covers a much larger area than 1165R Mass Ave.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon asks the applicants if they have objections to the calculations, or the recommended amount.

(Arthur Klipfel) Mr. Klipfel thinks the amount is okay. He says that number will basically be baked into the construction bond for the work. He requests a condition that the work be done.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon believes the bond is like an insurance policy, where you pay a premium and full amount is only paid if there's a default. He asks if that's correct.

(Marty Nover) Ms. Nover says that's her understanding.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon asks Ms. Nover if she has any idea about what the premium might be.

(Marty Nover) Ms. Nover isn't sure.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon believes the bond is really like an insurance policy. If the board disagrees, then we'll have to deal with that during negotiations.

(Arthur Klipfel) Mr. Klipfel believes the contractor should be able to negotiate the bond.

(Kevin Mills, ZBA) Mr. Mills has a question about street traffic during construction. He asks if the board has an assurance that the street will remain clear during construction.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks the applicants if they've considered where the construction workers will park.

(Arthur Klipfel) Mr. Klipfel says there'll be a construction plan worked out with the building department, and the contractors will be bound by that plan. The plan should break things down on a week by week, and then day by day basis.

(Gwen Noyes) Ms. Noyes says it's standard practice to provide a construction management plan. It would include requirements for police details, and whatever rules are necessary.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says there will be a pre-construction meeting to discuss police details and the timing of any road closures. She notes that residential traffic won't increase until after construction is complete.

(Kevin Mills) Mr. Mills believes there should be some guarantees, so that driveways are never blocked.

(Arthur Klipfel) Mr. Klipfel agrees.

(Gwen Noyes) Ms. Noyes says that open areas of the property will be available for contractor parking.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks the board if they have any more questions. There are none, and he asks if the applicant has any.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer has questions about conditions C.1(e)(ii) and C.1(e)(vii). She believes the Conservation Commission referenced a survival rate of 80%, not 95%.

(Susan Chapnick, Conservation Commission Chair) Ms. Chapnick says the Conservation Commission submitted suggested edits on 10/14, which was one day after the ZBA issued their latest draft. They recommended changing the survival rate from 95% to 80% for consistency with the 1165R Mass Ave decision.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says she's fine with the changes in the memo from BETA and the Conservation Commission. She suggests replacing the relevant sections in the draft.

Ms. Kiefer believes that condition C.2(l) is trying to address two different concepts; she suggests splitting them up. She believes that the $100k concept comes from the conservation parcel memorandum of understanding (MOU), and that C.2(m) won't be permissible under 40B as it creates a condition subsequent.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein acknowledges that the board will need to add conditions to cover the scenario where an MOU is not agreed upon.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says that's where she was going. She says the applicants are committed to pursuing an MOU, but there needs to be a separate condition in case an agreement isn't reached. She also believes that condition should refer to finding 73 rather than 71. Finding 71 contains a statement of opinion, and she wouldn't want a condition that requires the applicants to accept a town opinion. She suggests the phrasing in D.1(f) might be better for the $100k. Because of timing, (f) probably belongs under D.2 rather than D.1.

E.10 and E.9 should be concerned with what final plans should be included.

In E.13, "utilities" should be "on-site utilities".

In F.4, Ms. Kiefer suggests the language "in accordance with state fire code provisions", or similar.

(Kevin Mills) Regarding fire department access to the front of the senior housing building, Mr. Mills would like to have the Arlington Fire Department sign off that the access is adequate.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein says the fire department will do that.

(Stephanie Kiefer) In condition G.2, Ms. Kiefer suggests saying "designed per state building requirements".

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon believes there's an ambiguity in the way G.2 is worded. He asks if the intent is to have state building code apply to both stairwells and residential units.

(Paul Haverty) Mr. Haverty says the intent is to have state building code apply to both. That ensures compliance in the event the building code changes.

(Stephanie Kiefer) For H.6, Ms. Kiefer suggests the language "on-site utilities" and "applicant in conjunction with utility companies".

Ms. Kiefer doesn't believe the board can require the easement mentioned in H.9. She also suggests saying "all sewer services for the senior living facility".

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein believes the easement request came from the town's engineering division. He asks Ms. Lynema for confirmation.

(Kelly Lynema, Planning Department) Ms. Lynema says she'll have to check the engineering department's memo.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon asks if the applicants object to the substance of H.9.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says she doesn't understand the purpose of that condition. Clarification would be helpful.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon suggests the board could write a better condition, if they knew what the intent was.

(Paul Haverty, Counsel for the Board) Mr. Haverty believes the intent is to allow the town to do construction on the applicant's property.

(Kelly Lynema) Ms. Lynema says it's just an easement for town access during construction.

(John Hession, BSC) Mr. Hession summaries his understanding of that request. There's a ten-foot sewer easement on the applicant's property today, but the project won't connect to that sewer line. Once the vegetation is cleared, there will be better access to that sewer easement. If the town needs to do sewer improvements there, it would be best to coordinate that work during site construction. He'd like to understand if this is a short-term request, or something the town intends to do further down the road.

There's back and fourth about the purpose of the temporary sewer easement. Ultimately, we need a better understanding of what the intent is.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says the applicants will agree to have discussions with the public works department about temporary access during construction. If the town plans to work on the sewer line, then coordinating that work with the construction makes complete sense. She notes that condition E.6 requires the applicant to perform video inspections of that line before and after construction, and to repair any damage the occurs.

(John Hession) Mr. Hession requests the language in H.2 also be used in H.9.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer suggests adding "from the wetlands protection act" after "order of conditions" in condition I.2.

For I.9, Ms. Kiefer suggests "within 21 days" rather than "within one week".

(Marta Nover) Ms. Nover would prefer one week in the first sentence of I.9. But she's okay with changing "10 days" to "20 days" in the last sentence.

(Susan Chapnick) Regarding the first sentence of I.9, Ms. Chapnick says that one week is a typical requirement for sediment stabilization.

(Stephanie Kiefer) In I.23, Ms. Kiefer suggests changing "resource area" to "BVW or IVW". Otherwise, there are portions of the site that can't be sanded during the winter.

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick would like to keep that wording in I.23, but make exceptions for specific areas of the site. The Conservation Commission typically recommends magnesium chloride for de-icing.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer believes that "BVW or IVW" is clearer and easier to comply with.

(John Hession) Mr. Hession asks if "resource area" includes the AURA, in condition I.23.

(Susan Chapnick) Mr. Chapnick agrees that needs to be clarified.

(Stephanie Kiefer) In I.27, Ms. Kiefer suggests "planting plan" rather than "restoration plan".

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick is okay with that.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer isn't sure what "administrative approval" means in I.28. She suggests changing "AURA" to "100 foot buffer".

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick says there are three plans mentioned in the conditions: compensatory flood storage, invasive species management, and planting. She'd like to keep the word "AURA" because there are waivers that refer to it.

(Paul Haverty) Mr. Haverty says that "administrative approval" is language that's been blessed by the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC). It doesn't imply a new hearing. The board simply has to agree that it's consistent with the comprehensive permit.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon suggests looking at the language in the Oct 14th memo from the Conservation Commission.

There's more discussion about invasive management an monitoring requirements.

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick believes the invasive management plan should be in perpetuity, but with no monitoring requirement after the third year. This applies to areas being disturbed and re-vegetated.

(John Hession) Mr. Hession thinks the condition should allow the invasive management plan to be altered, in case the initial plan is not effective.

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick thinks that sounds reasonable.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon suggests the applicants provide any feedback on the compensatory flood storage and planting plan conditions before the public hearing closes.

(Stephanie Kiefer) For the compensatory flood storage plan, Ms. Kiefer suggests taking out the narrative, and just listing the conditions.

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick is okay with that, as long as the narrative can be moved to the findings section.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer makes a similar suggestion for the planting plan; remove the narrative, and just list the conditions.

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick says that's also acceptable, provided that the narrative is captured in the decision's findings.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer asks if the planting plan condition only applies to resource areas.

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick says yes; non-native plantings can be used outside of the resource areas.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer suggests the conditions be worded so that all of the requirements can be met with a single plan submission, rather than three separate plans.

(Steve Moore, Tree Committee) Ms. Moore says that a tree plan would be helpful, so it can be reviewed by the tree warden.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein says there's already a landscaping plan (for non-resource areas) on the town website.

(John Hession) Mr. Hession says he's generally okay with the planting requirements. He notes that the wetland areas have conditions that require more detail about the plantings, beyond what's in the landscaping plan.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer suggests using 80% in Condition I.30. She also believes that I.33 was recommended for deletion.

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick agrees that I.33 should deleted, because the issue was already addressed in another condition. She points out that I.34 was run together with I.33, and that I.34 should be kept.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer asks about conditions I.31 and I.32.

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick says that I.32 should stay, but invasive management should be exempted. For I.31, Ms. Chapnick suggests changing the language to "except as shown on the approved plans". Further work would require authorization. In BETA's memo, the changes suggested to I.34 should be made to I.32.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says that only the board can authorize changes to the project plan.

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick agrees that invasive control should be exempted from I.31 and I.32.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer believes that I.34 and I.35 are duplicative and should be combined.

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick says that I.36 is not necessary, and should be deleted.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer suggests striking J.3. She's not sure it would be necessary or useful for the town to be copied on all correspondences with state and federal permitting agencies.

(Paul Haverty) Mr. Haverty points out that J.3 ensures the town will receive copies of things like testing results. He believes there can be a happy medium whereby the town receives documents of interest without necessarily receiving every single communication. He suggests language to that effect.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon notes that I.6 and I.40 both deal with de-watering. He's not sure which language is preferable.

After discussion, there seems to be a consensus for taking I.40(5), adding that language to I.6, and then striking I.40.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer suggests changing language in J.5 to "fails to advance efforts to maintain". She's concerned about the case where part of the stormwater management needs to be replaced, and the part takes longer than seven days to arrive. Waiting for a part on back order isn't the same as doing nothing.

(Paul Haverty) Mr. Haverty understands Ms. Kiefer's point. He suggests saying "fails to take appropriate efforts".

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer asks for clarification about what the "recreational area" in J.6 is referring to.

(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak believes that might be left over from the prior iteration of the project, which included a playground.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer suggests striking the second sentence of J.6. For J.7, Ms. Kiefer suggests adding the language "unless agreed by the parties with a separate memorandum of understanding".

Ms. Kiefer suggests adding "approved as consistent with final plans" to the board action for waiver 5.

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick says that will be okay with the Conservation Commission, but suggests using the language from waiver 3.

(Stephanie Kiefer) For Waiver 7, Ms. Kiefer suggests the regulation wasn't intended to require continuous review. It's for reviewing the NOI and Order of Conditions under the state wetlands act. She suggests the board deny the waiver as unnecessary. The Conservation Commission can request chapter 53G funds when permitting under the state wetlands act.

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick is okay with denying as unnecessary, provided that Ms. Kiefer's legal argument is correct.

(Paul Haverty) Ms. Haverty states that Ms. Kiefer's legal argument is correct. The Comprehensive Permit doesn't take away the Conservation Commission's ability to review the project under the state wetlands act.

(Stephanie Kiefer) For waiver 22, Ms. Kiefer requests the language include a statement about the duplex parking. There were two parking spaces required in 2016, and some of those units will have one space.

(Pat Hanlon) Going back to parking, Mr. Hanlon would like to ask Mr. de Ruiter a few questions about traffic calculations.

(Tyler de Ruiter, BETA) Mr. de Ruiter says he's looked at neighborhood trip generation for houses that don't have frontage on Lake Street, and concluded that the project would increase traffic in the neighborhood by around 18%.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon asks if that assumes half of the homes are single-family, and half are two-family.

(Tyler de Ruiter) Mr. de Ruiter says that's correct. He averaged the trip generation for single- and two-family homes, and multiplied by the number of homes.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon says the board was asked to consider this question last time. This gives us an approximate, order of magnitude answer.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

(John Yurewicz) Mr. Yurewicz says he's a 53-year resident of this neighborhood. 90% of the traffic will be coming down Littlejohn Street, and that's horrible. No to construction on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays; that's noise we don't want. If the town won't own (the conservation parcel?), then we'll lose out on the maintenance we were pledged. That's bait and switch. 7:30 to 5:30 is a ten hour day; the construction hours can be 7:30 to 4:30. He hopes the town has inspectors. There were a lot of new duplexes built on Littlejohn Street and the construction was horrible. All construction vehicles should be parked on the property, not the street. This is not good for us.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein thought that ownership wouldn't affect preservation funds for the conservation parcel. He asks if that's correct.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer answers in the affirmative.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein asks if 7:30 to 4:30 could work for construction hours.

(Arthur Klipfel) Mr. Klipfel thinks that could work.

(Gwen Noyes) Ms. Noyes adds: provided that people can arrive before 7:30 and stay quiet until work begins.

(Steve Moore) Mr. Moore wishes to speak about finding 73 and the open space parcel. It was originally proposed as a sweetener for the deal, and it seems like that's getting changed at the last minute. He believes that's leaving a bad taste in people's mouths. He hopes a potential donation to the town would be considered. He's concerned about covenants being un-done in the future. Regarding waiver 10, that means working with the tree warden and submitting a tree plan.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says the applicant agrees to work with the tree warden. The open space parcel was not a sudden change, and the original plan was to convey it to a third party. There will be a conservation restriction; the parcel will be available for recreation and can be used by the public. Those are public benefits which are desired by the town. There's also been hesitancy of the town to acquire the parcel. It will be available for public use and access.

(Heather Keith Lucas) Regarding construction start times, Ms. Keith Lucas says the pandemic has changed people's work patterns. The noise will impact all of us. Having trucks here before 8:00 am sounds disruptive. Any noise will impact the noise quality of the neighborhood. For finding 48, we talked about rush hour traffic; Ms. Keith Lucas asks to have traffic counts included in that finding. Finding 57 has placeholders. She believes that the traffic increases will be spread out during the entire day, so that it will feel like the equivalent to rush hour all day. There are traffic concerns on Lake Street, and this will impact neighboring towns.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon says the increase of 412 trips/day comes from ITE calculations, and doesn't take any of the proposed TDM measures into account.

(Heather Keith Lucas) Section 57 contains the language "in an attempt to address these challenges". Ms. Keith Lucas believes the applicant has not attempted to address traffic challenges, and says there's no evidence that mitigates the massive traffic impact. There's no contingency, and it's an undue burden on Littlejohn St. Eliminating the senior housing is the only way to mitigate the traffic burden.

(Nicholas Ide) Mr. Ide wishes to speak to conditions 48, and 55--58. He says that Lake St. isn't the right benchmark; Littlejohn Street and Dorothy Road are. There's cut through traffic that blows through the stop signs on Mary Street. It seems that there are still questions about traffic. He suggests the board include a condition that traffic not increase qualitatively. An 18% increase is significant, and these are focused effects. Regarding E.16, there should be no work on weekends and holidays. This project is massively different. Kids go to school starting at 7:00 am and Lake Street is the only way out. It's not clear that any police detail will keep the kids safe.

(Anna Kukharskyy) Ms. Kukharskyy wishes to speak about finding 57. She says there's no evidence that traffic challenges were addressed. These streets are quiet and local. She asks if there will be any additional stop signs or traffic signals, and who'd be responsible for the cost.

(Kelly Lynema) Ms. Lynema says she'd need to consult with the town's Senior Transportation Planner.

(Anna Kukharskyy) Ms. Kukharskyy says the Hardy school causes traffic jams at 7:30, and again when kids get out. This will present a danger to kids. She's disappointed about the bait and switch regarding the conservation parcel.

(Helene Martel) Ms. Martel says there's been a big turnover of houses and there are lots of new kids. Regarding condition E.16, she thinks that kids will be at risk. She can't see having construction work done on Saturdays and Sundays. She thinks this is anti-family, and Thorndike field will flood more. She says that the neighborhood was besieged by insects last summer because of standing water in Thorndike Field. She's lived here for 24 years and feel trepidation.

(Robert DiBiase) Mr. DiBiase has five points to make. First, the construction will bring delivery trucks and they'll idle their engines. He's concerned about deliveries blocking his driveway. He says we're not set up for this kind of development. He concerned about whether his family will be able to come and go during the day. He has a Nest camera that captures every car that drives by on the street. There are usually 50--60 per day; to add 412, the magnitude would be enormous. Work during weekends is a problem. This is a thickly settled neighborhood. Mr. DiBiase says the burden of traffic will be on his home.

(Susan Stamps) Ms. Stamps is a member of the Tree Committee. Regarding waiver 10, she understands that the applicants have to comply with the 2016 version of the tree bylaw. She asks if the applicants will have to submit a tree plan showing the location of all trees that are located within the setback and have a diameter of at least 10", and pay replanting fees.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says the applicants will present a tree plan. They're not required to have it approved because the comprehensive permit subsumes all others.

(Susan Stamps) Ms. Stamps asks about fees and replanting.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein says the landscape plan is part of the final decision. However, the board hasn't discussed fees for trees that may be removed.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says the bylaw requires replanting or payment of a fee. The says the applicants will pay fees, if necessary, based on the final plans.

(Gwen Noyes) Ms. Noyes says they intend to comply with the ordinance, though she's not sure how the removal of unsafe trees will be counted.

(Susan Stamps) Ms. Stamps has a question about condition F.2. She asks "what's a smaller delivery vehicle", and whether the condition is enforceable.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon suggests the board may need to refine the language of that condition.

(Susan Stamps) Ms. Stamps asks if condition F.3 could include hours of operation for the jitney service, and the destinations it will serve. She's concerned that the applicant might only run the service for an hour a day, like noon to 1:00 pm.

(Gwen Noyes) Ms. Noyes says that jitney service hours haven't been decided. But it would be at times outside of peak traffic, and convenient to the residents living there.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon says that staff hours will be skewed, and the jitney might need to, say, pick staff up at the Alewife T station.

(Susan Stamps) Ms. Stamps wonders if condition I.21 could require the use of organic fertilizer.

(Susan Chapnick) Ms. Chapnick says that organic fertilizers are preferred, but that's not consistent with what the Conservation Commission has required for other projects.

(Gwen Noyes) Ms. Noyes says they'll endeavor to make this project as environmentally responsible as possible. We've been in touch with very engaged people for the management of the open space parcel. She believes it will be an exemplary piece of property.

(Matt McKinnon) Mr. McKinnon asks if the decision should individually list specific town officials who've spoken against this development.

(Christian Klein) Mr. Klein seems not to be in favor. He notes that it's easy for an official to say they support or oppose something when they don't have any skin in the game.

(Matt McKinnon) Mr. McKinnon believes this project will kick start a chain reaction of infrastructure upgrades and trigger a grotesque upending of the community. He suggests the board deny the senior housing. He feels the applicant has not been a good steward of their property and shouldn't be allowed to oversee it, or remain the owner of it.

(Brian Rehrig) Mr. Rehrig thinks that 50 years from now, people will recognize the conservation parcel as having more impact than the construction itself. In finding 73, he requests a recitation of how the donation of land to the town was touted as a factor. Mr. Rehrig says these folks might have the best of intentions, but he expects the property to get developed, then flipped, then flipped again. He says there's no MOU yet, but section C.2(m) requires a negotiated MOU. The board will need to give the parties the best way to handle that. Mr. Rehrig says the applicant's proposal appears to rule out the town being the holder of the conservation parcel. He requests the board ensure that negotiations can continue and allow the town to become owner. He thinks it's vital for the town to have a property interest.

(Heather Keith Lucas) Regarding finding 37, Ms. Keith Lucas thinks the language "not in pristine condition" is not accurate. She asks the board to include language stating the applicant neglected the property. She believes this is relevant to the change in ownership of the conservation parcel. She doesn't believe the applicant made an effort to re-house the homeless population living there. She thinks it's misleading to suggest that this development will resolve the issue of homelessness on the property.

There's no further comment from the public.

(Pat Hanlon) Mr. Hanlon is interested in following up on Mr. Rehrig's questions.

(Stephanie Kiefer) Ms. Kiefer says the applicants have offered to work with the town on a MOU. Whether the town becomes holder of the land or not, there's a willingness to work with the town.

(Paul Haverty) Mr. Haverty says the town won't have the ability to enforce an agreement that it's not a party to. However he believes something could be worked out in the MOU.

We're over four hours into the hearing, and I needed to give my hand a rest. There's continued discussion about the conservation parcel -- how it was originally offered to the town, how the town was hesitant/reluctant to take ownership, and how the board doesn't have the ability to obligate the town to acquire the property (only town meeting can make that decision), and the fact that "conservation parcel" doesn't necessarily imply the land will be available for public recreation.

In the end, there's a motion to close the public hearing. Motion passes, 7--0.

Upcoming dates

Upcoming dates for the board include:

  • Oct 26th. Regular hearings.
  • Oct 28th. First deliberation hearing for the Thorndike Place decision.
  • Nov 23rd. Target date for a final vote on the Thorndike Place decision.

Meeting adjourned, sometime after midnight.