Zoning Bylaw Working Group - Oct 7th, 2020

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Meeting via video-conference. We have two guests today: Emily Innes (Harriman) and Eric Halvorsen (RKG).

At the time of writing, meeting materials were available here: https://www.arlingtonma.gov/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/22975/18.

Approval of Minutes. The working group approves minutes from May 8th.

Draft Industrial District Zoning Amendments. Emily Innes summarizes where we are in the industrial district assessment. We've had a survey on preferences for the industrial district. Based on the survey results and earlier economic analysis, Harriman drew up a draft set of bylaw changes. They were concerned with making sure that the proposed development standards would work, and tried to keep in mind what could be done by a developer of a new building vs a new tenant in an existing building. They also though about public benefits, and whether they were sufficient. Eric Halvorsen notes the video walk-through that accompanied the survey, and that over 200 people responded.

A draft will be presented to the ARB on Oct 19th.

Pam Heidell found the "lines of sight" language in section 5.3.7 confusing. She points out that there's a difference between retaining and detaining stormwater. She suggests adding references to state stormwater standards, conservation commission regulations, and Arlington's stormwater bylaw.

Ms. Innes thinks the references are a good idea. Regarding "lines of sight", they were trying to avoid a total screening of the Minuteman Bikeway, to avoid the perception of having a safety issue. Regarding stormwater, the idea is to have water stored on site, and allow it to filter off.

Jenny Raitt says that Emily Sullivan (town Conservation Planner) has reviewed the proposed changes.

Ralph Wilmer thinks the definitions are lengthy and complex, and contain development standards. He'd prefer to see the standards in section 5.6.2, rather than in the definitions. He likes that there are a range of options for satisfying the standards.

Ms. Innes agrees with the idea of separating standards from the definitions. They were grouped together in this draft as a matter of convenience and to facilitate discussion.

John Worden asks when this will come before town meeting. Erin Zwirko they'll come up during the next annual town meeting, if they're ready by them. They will be brought up during the special town meeting in November.

Mr. Worden is concerned about allowing marijuana cultivation in the industrial district. Ms. Zwirko points out that marijuana cultivation uses were added by town meeting in 2018. Ms. Innes notes that cultivation is allowed by special permit in the I district. She's never seen cultivation done in a flex space. That might be okay if the underlying regulations allow it. Cultivation probably would not be appropriate in mixed-use settings. Eric Halvorsen says that some communities are seeing a boon in growing facilities, particularly those that have large, old industrial spaces. He's not sure that Arlington's I district parcels are large enough for cultivation; one might have to combine a couple of lots in order to have enough space.

Jenny Raitt asks whether marijuana cultivation would fall under vertical farming. Ms. Innes says that vertical farming was intended to support food production.

Steve Revilak likes the general direction of the draft, particularly how it has standards and bonuses for sustainability measures, like green roofs and solar panels. Mr. Revilak has a number of questions. He asks if the "50% increase in footprint" refers to lot coverage or to gross floor area. Ms. Innes will have to consider this. Mr. Revilak notes that several regulations in our ZBL are triggered by changes to GFA.

He asks if the Arlington Commission on Arts and Culture has standards and guidelines for artists mixed-use space. No, these standards will have to be developed.

Mr. Revilak asks if the term "solar ready" needs to be defined. Ms. Innes agrees that there should be a definition.

Mr. Revilak suggests several small wording changes.

Christian Klein points out that numerous Industrial district lots abut the minuteman bikeway, and it's not unusual to have a grade change between the bikeway and an adjoining lot. He asks if the grade changes should be looked at more closely.

Mr. Klein notes that alcoholic beverage tastings are listed as a separate use. He asks if that's contingent upon there being a brewery or distillery, of if other types of businesses could hold tastings. Ms. Innes says the idea was for tastings to be an accessory use to breweries and distilleries.

Mr. Klein asks if food trucks would be regulated by the ZBL or by the board of health. He asks if artist live/work space would be the only residential use allowed in the I district. Ms. Innes says the intent was to allow residential as part of mixed-use development, but only if the residential use is less than 50% of the gross floor area.

Mr. Klein agrees with Mr. Wilmer's comment about separating standards and definitions. He also agrees that vertical farming should be limited to food production.

Charlie Kalauskas thinks this is a great improvement overall. He asks if there's been any pro-forma testing, to see if the restrictions and development standards will work. Mr. Halvorsen says they haven't done a pro-forma model, because it wasn't in scope of the project. RKG and Harriman were both concerned about the costs associated with the development standards, and tried to stick to ones they felt would be financially viable. Mr. Kalauskas is concerned that the numbers might not work without a residential component.

Mr. Kalauskas asks how parking requirements for flex space would be handled (e.g., if the percentage of use changes). Ms. Innes thinks this subject warrants further consideration. She'll look at regulations in other communities, to see how they handle changes in parking requirements. We could specify trigger conditions that warrant change to parking.

Ms. Zwirko says that DPCD can check to see if this project has funds remaining. If so, we can consider some kind of pro-forma analysis.

David Watson thinks the draft is making great progress. If would be wonderful if we could attract new businesses. He agrees with the idea of separating standards from definitions. He'd like to see sustainability features in more projects, and is weighing the tradeoffs between making them requirements versus requesting them in exchange for bonuses. He thinks this could be a step in the right direction.

Mr. Watson has a number of comments about bicycle parking. He thinks there should be bicycle parking requirements for an establishment that allows alcoholic beverage tasting. Aeronaut's tastings attracted a lot of people on bicycles, and they had a shortage of bike parking.

Ms. Innes agrees that the cost of sustainability measures is a consideration. It's also important to think about what a developer can do vs what a tenant can do. Tenants may want to implement some of these in order to reduce operating costs.

Mr. Watson thinks this is a reasonable step forward. He thinks it would be helpful if the Redevelopment Board had more sustainability tools to work with.

Mr. Worden is concerned about residential uses in the industrial district. He thinks the industrial district shouldn't send kids to school, or use services like the police and fire departments. He doesn't want the industrial district to be cannibalized by residential uses, because that will cause taxes to go up.

There are no more comments from the working group. Ms. Zwirko asks for comments from the public.

Don Seltzer says he doesn't understand the solar requirements ("full sun 50% of the time or 50% sun all the time", in Ms. Innes says that a bylaw needs to create boundaries for enforcement. That particular language was taken from a Minnesota bylaw. The idea is to take the longest and shortest days of the year, and look at the amount of time spent in shade. She thinks it would be straightforward for a planner or architect to check.

Mr. Seltzer asks what "full sun" means. Ms. Innes says it means sunlight on the entire property. 50% sun means that half the property is shaded. Mr. Seltzer thinks the proposed regulation is inadequate, and that December 21st is the only date that matters for a shadow study. He'd like to see a regulation based on the number of hours of shade per day.

Ms. Zwirko says that DPCD will continue to accept written comments, but asks that they be submitted in the next two weeks.