Zoning Bylaw Working Group - Feb 27th, 2019

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MAPC's build-out analyses and shadow studies are expected next week.

Charlie Kalauskas would like to see us revisit the zoning map. Jenny Raitt agrees, but we cannot do everything at once. The original RFP for this project was signs plus a review of the business districts, and no one bid on that RFP. As a result, we removed the business district review to focus on signs.

Erin Zwirko poses a question to the group. There's a series of exemptions in the proposed sign bylaw. She asks if there should be exemptions for non-illuminated non-conforming signs in residential districts, and if the permit exemption should be explicit.

David Watson wants the bylaw to be easily navigable, but not necessarily duplicative. Ultimately, it should provide clear answers for people.

Steve Revilak notes there are two forms of review in the proposed sign bylaw: one by the building inspector and the other by DPCD. The building inspector's responsibilities are spelled out rather clearly; Steve asks about the purpose of the DPCD review. Jenny Raitt says the DPCD review is intended to apply design standards, and to determine whether ARB review is necessary.

Charlie believes that monument post signs might be excessive for a residential district. Erin notes that these won't be permitted in R0--R2.

Jenny believes that a sign district map might be helpful.

Christian Klein asks about the jurisdiction of the ZBA vs ARB. There would be advantages to having all sign permits handled by one special permit granting authority. The ZBA hasn't discussed this yet, but plans to do so at their next meeting.

David Watson states that ARB member Eugene Benson submitted a set of written concerns about the sign bylaw.

Erin states that we don't want to trample on property owners right to install signs. However, we don't want excessive clutter either.

Next, we discuss the articles relating to the floodplain overlay district, the inland wetlands district, and administrative corrections.

Pamela Heidell notes there are inconsistencies between definitions in the ZBL, and those in Conservation Commission regulations. For example, each defines the floodplain district differently. She asks if the ZBL can use the same definitions as the Conservation Commission. Nathaniel Stevens made similar comments to the ARB earlier in February.

Pamela notes that the ZBL defines the inland wetlands district as land within 25' feet of a water body, while the Conservation Commission uses 200'. Jenny states that the inland wetlands article was changed to 200'. Pamela would like the purpose statement to have some sort of reference to climate change. She'd also like to see references to the Conversation Commission regulations and the town's wetlands bylaw.

No comments to the administrative corrections.

The Dover Amendment article's goal is to provide an overview of the religious and educational uses covered by the Dover Amendment.

For article 6, Steve Revilak notes that there are only three three-family homes in the R4 district. Two of these are non-conforming under the currently bylaw (with respect to lot size). The proposed lot size would make all three conforming.

There's discussion about the dimensional requirements for townhouses. The town's goal is to allow a greater diversity of housing, even if some of the houses are small.

Joanne Preston asks about properties in the historic district. Changes there would still be subject to review by the Historic District Commission. None of the proposed changes would affect that.

There's discussion of side-yard setbacks in B1 lots that abut residential districts. Christian would like some side setback, to provide building access. For example, there should be enough of a setback to allow an exterior wall to be painted without the business owner having to go through an adjoining residential lot. Jenny believes considerations like these could be resolved through the EDR process.

Charlie is concerned that future map changes might allow additional density. He'd like to see less intensity in the areas between East Arlington and the Center, and between the Center and the heights.

David summarizes comments that Andy West made during a recent ARB meeting. There should be ups and downs along Mass Ave, meaning areas of lesser intensity to break up areas of greater intensity.

The Housing Plan Implementation Committee will talk about accessory dwelling units at their meeting tonight. The Residential Study Group will discuss them on March 8th.

John Worden thinks that an ADU proposal needs to include an affordability requirement, and greater parking requirements. A single-family house with an ADU should still look like a single-family house.

Jenny passes around a booklet called "Making Room", which is published by the AARP. It contains several examples of more diverse housing types. Lexington has the good model for ADUs. They're not allowed by right, but there aren't many restrictions. ADUs have been part of Lexington's ZBL for a long time.

Jenny reports that three Massachusetts communities put affordability requirements on ADUs, and those efforts didn't work out wall. Affordability (meaning, that the ADU would be added to the town's Subsidized Housing Inventory) requires an FHA review, which is a fairly involved process.

David Watson asks how ADU rental rates compares to fair market rent. None of us are.

DPCD will hold office hours during the evenings of March 14th and March 21st, for residents who have questions about the proposed zoning changes. The school department has confirmed dates for neighborhood outreach meetings.