Zoning Board of Appeals - Sep 4th, 2018

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Docket 3566, 2 Garden Street. The applicant seeks a special permit under section 5.04, table of use regulations.

The applicant owns 2 Garden street and surrounding lots. He owns a construction company, and wants to build an office building on the site. His company works mostly in the life-sciences area, building lab and research spaces. The company has approximately 37 employees, and has been in Arlington for nine years. They'd like to build an office building to accommodate their growing business. Arlington is a good location for the kind of work they do.

The current site contains two three-family homes and a couple of sheds. The proposed office building would contain 2 floors at 2,860 square feet per floor, eleven parking spaces, and two loading bays for tool storage.

The applicant plans to perform landscaping work around the site, to make it look attractive.

Armstrong Ambulance owns a nearby property. Armstrong was concerned about utility work disrupting their ability to provide emergency service. The applicant worked with the DPW and building department to revise their utility plan, to avoid impact to Armstrong Ambulance.

The area is prone to flooding, and the applicant has obtained an order of conditions from the conservation commission. Their proposed development would reduce impervious service by 900 square feet, and would increase the storage capacity of the flood plain.

Mr. DuPont asks if the applicant's company will do fabrication work in their new office building. They will not. All fabrication takes place on the job site.

Mr. Klein asks about site lighting. All exterior lighting will be mounted on the building.

Mr. Klein asks if the building will be handicapped accessible. The building will not; the number of employees do not require it to be.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

The owner of Armstrong Ambulance wants to sure that construction will not interfere with their ability to provide emergency 911 service. She also requests that granite curbs be installed along site, to match the ones in front of Armstrong Ambulance. Armstrong acknowledges the flooding issues, and voices concern about water coming on to their site.

There's a motion to grant the special permit, with the condition that the applicant install granite curbs, and not interfere with 911 services. Motion passes 6--0.

Docket 3575, 60 Park Ave Extension. The applicant seeks a variance per section 6.00, Dimensional and Density Regulations. They're also seeking a special permit for a large addition.

The applicant requests a variance due to the triangular shape of their lot. Their attorney believes this meets the qualifications of Chapter 40A section 10. The applicant wants to construct an addition, so her mom can move in. The home is currently 1764 square feet. The addition would increase this to 3,162 square feet; this would require a special permit according to the large addition provision of our ZBL. They're seeking a variance for usable open space and setbacks. Given the shape of the lot, there's no way for an addition to meet setback requirements.

Mr. Klein asks if there's an existing deck. There is not.

Mr. Klein asks how high the planned deck will be above the curb. It will be elevated 4--5 feet above the curb.

Mr. DuPont states that the ZBA needs to approve the variance before considering the special permit. He agrees that the property is irregularly shaped, but the town has quite a few irregular lots; it's not a unique condition. Mr. Annesse (the applicant's attorney) states that this condition does not predominate the area, and that should be the ZBA's decision criteria.

Mr. DuPont asks if the applicant has considered plans that would not require a variance. The applicant did. Their architect said that all options would require a variance.

Mr. DuPont asks if the 1,398 square foot increase includes basement space. It does not. The increased square footage is on the first and second floors.

One of the neighbors addresses the board. She understands that the applicant is trying to provide care for her elderly mother, and supports the proposed addition. The ZBA has received letters of support from other neighbors.

Mr. Mills is concerned about the deck being too close to the road. The applicant is willing to make changes to the deck, if the ZBA has specific recommendations.

Ed Tremblay (a neighbor who owns a home across the street) addresses the board. He supports the applicant's desire to take care of her mom, and supports the request for a variance.

Mr. Quinn is concerned that the proposed addition is a big master bedroom and a big living room. Mr. DuPont stated that he's examined the assessors records, and feels that the addition would create a house that's out of scope with the neighborhood.

Ed Tremblay says there are big houses on the street, and that he owns one of them. He doesn't believe it will be out of scale.

Mr. Quinn is okay with the house, but thinks something has to be done about the deck. The applicant says the deck is for her mother, so she can go outside without having to use the stairs. Mr. Mills would be comfortable if the deck were set back six feet from the street.

There's a motion to approve the variance, with the condition that the deck is set back six feet. Motion passes, 6--0.

There's a motion to approve the special permit for the large addition. Motion passes.

Docket 3567, 32 Crosby Street. Continued hearing. The applicant seeks an appeal from the building inspector, and a variance.

The building inspector appeal involves a question of what qualifies as a half-story. The applicant finished their attic, and there's a disagreement as to whether the finished attic is a half-story or a full story.

Among the building inspector, the ZBA, and the applicant, there are five sets of measurements. Two show the attic to be conforming, and three show the attic in various degrees of non-conformity. The applicant's attorney argues that five different sets of measurements indicate a lack of clarity in the bylaw. For example, part of the floor area is taken up by a staircase, and different measurements count the staircase in different ways.

The applicant's attorney states that they applied for, and were granted a building permit. They were denied a certificate of occupancy when the violation was discovered, which happened after the renovation was done. The attorney argues that both sides acted in good faith. He asks the ZBA to overturn the building inspector's decision, or to grant a variance. The attorney states that work was done in accordance with submitted building plans.

There's discussion about the grounds for granting a variance. The applicant states that the property has a 6-foot retaining wall at the street level. It's not possible to get excavating equipment onto the property, so building up is the only way to add on. The applicant's attorney feels that topography should be grounds for a variance.

Mr. Klein notes that the attic dormer was constructed five inches higher than the building plan; the plan showed a height of 6' 4", but it was built to 6' 9". The contractor acknowledged this, and said it was an oversight of the framing crew.

Mr. Klein states that he's been in the space. He thinks it feels more like three stories than two and a-half.

The ZBL's definition of half-story states that no more than 50\% can have a height of 7' 3", measured from the finished floor to the bottom of the roof joists. This finished attic has 63--65\% of the floor area at a height of 7' 3" or more.

Rick Valerelli (building inspector) stated that the permit was issued with the condition that all parts of section 6.00 be satisfied by the final construction. Inspectional services explicitly wrote this condition into the permit, because they had reservations about conformance.

There's more back and fourth. The homeowner is stressed by the situation; he expected the architect and builder to build something that conformed to the law. The applicant, ZBA, and building inspector agree that it's distressing for things to have gotten to this point.

There's a motion for administrative appeal of the building inspector. Motion fails.

There's a motion for a variance, by accepting as-built conditions. This motion fails by a 2--3 vote.

Docket 3573, 10 Sunnyside Ave. Applicant seeks a special permit under section 5.04, table of use regulations. This is a continued hearing, and they're represented by John Leone.

The applicant is currently permitted to do body work at their garage. They're seeking a special permit to do auto repair as well. At the first hearing, there were concerns about the applicant's ability to keep auto parking within the confines of their property. They've since drawn up a plan to address this. Mr. Leone states that the applicant is up to date on their mortgage and tax payments, and no longer have anything to do with the property across the street. He feels that the ZBA can periodically review the business for compliance, and revoke the special permit if necessary.

Mr. Mills states that he still sees a lot of cars parked on the street, outside of their garage. But he acknowledges that he cannot prove those vehicles are related to Alewife Automotive's business.

The owner of Arlmont Fuel speaks up. He's kept a daily log of cars parked on the street, and can back up his records with video recordings. He says there was a car parked in front of Alewife Automotive for so long the town had to tow it away. It was covered with parking tickets. He also notes that Alewife Auto stopped doing business on Aug 13th, when their electricity was turned off.

George (owner of Alewife Automotive) states that he had the electricity turned off. The owner of Arlmont Fuel doesn't buy it.

A member of the ZBA asks about the building code violations. The applicant installed a stairway that did not satisfy building code. The stairway is currently blocked off, and will remain so until it's brought into compliance.

Mr. Quinn has also seen a lot of cars parked on the street outside of Alewife Automotive.

Mr. Leone states that the applicant is changing their business practices, to confine auto parking to their property. He believes that such changes cannot be made overnight -- new policies take time to implement.

The chair opens the hearing to public comment.

The owner of Arlmont Fuel voices concern about Alewife Automotive's inability to limit parking to their lot. He states that they were evicted from the property across the street. He believes their request for a special permit should be denied, due to a complete lack of consideration for their clients. They had cars on the lift when the electricity was shut off, and those cars can't be lowered until the electricity is turned back on. The owners of those vehicles are stuck.

The owner of Boyle's auto body stated that Alewife Automotive continued to park cars on the street, even after the last ZBA hearing.

I stated that Alewife Automotive tended to double park vehicles on both sides of Sunnyside ave; they also parked vehicles on Broadway, all the way down to Silk street. These vehicles had repair tags hanging from the rear-view mirror; indicating they were in for repair work. I noted that the severity of the parking problem varied over time. At one point, members of my neighborhood considered organizing shifts to record plate numbers, so we could take that information to the police department, and ask who the cars belonged to.

Danny (resident of Sunnyside Ave) spoke about the issue of double parking. He felt it created a pedestrian hazard, since there are no sidewalks at that end of Sunnyside. He said that that residents of Sunnyside have to detour around the block to get to Broadway, because of all the parked cars.

Mr. Klein asks if the parking is a daytime issue or a nighttime issue. The owner of Arlmont fuel replies that it's both. He notes that the building's roof is covered with a blue tarp, and has been for months.

Dana (resident of Sunnyside Ave) says that parking is like a zoo. He's aware that the town is planning to install sidewalks at the end of the street, and wonders where Alewife Automotive will put the cars.

David from Boyle's Auto Body says he's been in business for eleven years, and has never left a car on the street.

Mr. Klein believes there are unresolved issues. It appears that the parking problems are still present.

I stated that Alewife Automotive has been closed for several weeks, because their power is out. It's hard to assess the parking changes because they're not doing business. I ask if the board would consider a continuation. The idea would be to monitor the parking situation while Alewife Automotive was doing business. Mr. Quinn stated that this was the goal of the last continuation.

Mr. Leone said that his client realizes the importance of what the neighbors and abutters are saying. He asks the board to approve the special permit, and says that parking issues can be reported to the police department.

There's a motion to approve the special permit. The vote is 2--2 with two members abstaining. Motion fails.