Zoning Bylaw Working Group - Sep 19th, 2019

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Attending: Erin Zwirko, Jenny Raitt, Ralph Wilmer, Charlie Kalauskas, Pam Heidell, Steve Revilak.

Guests: Don Seltzer, Jo Ann Preston, Patricia Worden.

Today's meeting focused on reviewing proposals for the Industrial Zoning RFP.

Two items on the rating form relate to project references. Erin Zwirko says we can call all of the references, or use the other criteria to narrow down the list. Pamela Heidell suggests calling all of the references; Ms. Zwirko agrees.

We review the proposals one at a time, then discuss them as a group.

VHB. Ms. Heidell felt that VHB's staff had a good mix of disciplines, but was concerned that the project manager didn't have much experience on similar projects. Charlie Kalauskas agreed that the PM could have been more experienced. Mr. Kalauskas was more impressed with RKG's proposal.

Christian Klein liked VHB's environmental focus, but questioned whether it was necessary for this project. Jenny Raitt stated that the town has a good record of working with VHB, but mostly on traffic and transportation projects. Ralph Wilmer says that VHB has a planning practice, but their projects are more downtown-oriented than industrial. Ms. Heidell was unsure how much the project advisers would be involved, based on the submission. Mr. Wilmer said that advisers are generally available as needed, and that most of the day-to-day work is done by the project managers.

RKG. Mr. Kalauskas was impressed with RKG's analytics and their ability to understand markets. He was concerned that their proposal had the longest timeline. Ms. Raitt noted that none of these proposals would go before a spring town meeting. Ms. Zwirko felt that a July delivery was okay, since we're planning a special town meeting in the fall of 2020. Mr. Wilmer suggested asking for a tighter timeline, if RKG is selected for this project. Ms. Heidell liked the fact that the project manager is a principal in the firm.

Mr. Klein asked if RKG would be able to maintain the project schedule, based on our experience with the recodification. Ms. Raitt said we'd bring this up during an interview. Mr. Klein though the rest of their proposal was reasonable. The firm has size, longevity, and experience.

Horsley-Witten. Ms. Heidell felt the workload outlined in the proposal was at odds with the RFP. Their proposal mentioned two build-out scenarios, but the project descriptions were vague. She though the subcontractor was strong, but wasn't clear on the division of work.

Mr. Wilmer is familiar with the subcontractor, and notes that they're only slotted in for certain tasks. He believes Nate Kelly is good for zoning work, and isn't sure whether the build out scenarios are needed. He liked that they'd be looking at case studies.

Mr. Kalauskas felt the proposal didn't talk enough about Arlington's role in the regional economy. Ms. Raitt believed that market analysis has to take place within the context of a market; we'd give that advice to any consultant.

Ms. Heidell has always considered Horsley-Witten to be more of an environmental sciences firm. Ms. Raitt notes that two of the consultants have a lot of zoning experience. Ms. Heidell felt the proposal was generally vague, even the resumes.

Barrett Consulting. Mr. Kalauskas feels that Barrett is a small, relatively new firm. Ms. Heidell felt that their work on the Master Plan was disjointed. Steve Revilak expressed concern about the firm's ability to manage resources, based on our experience with zoning recodification.

Ms. Heidell felt the overall proposal was good. However, given the town's experience, it would be worthwhile to check references on recent projects. Ms. Raitt noted that two of the staff are new to the field, and she expressed concern about the need for more experience.

Community Opportunities Group. Mr. Revilak felt the proposal showed a good breadth of experience, with both municipal and private clients. Mr. Wilmer felt that most of the projects were downtown oriented, rather than industrial. But they did their homework in putting this proposal together. Ms. Raitt said that COG worked on several sections of the town's Master Plan. She's worked with several members of their project team and thinks highly of them. However, she's not sure if they have direct experience with this kind of project.

General Discussion. Ms. Zwirko felt that the responses to RKG's proposal were positive, but didn't get a sense of consensus around the second and third choices. Ms. Raitt asks the group members to return their review forms during the next week. We'll need the forms before starting the interview process, and we want to interview at least three of the firms.

Ms. Heidell liked Barrett and COG. Mr. Kalauskas liked VHB and RKG, but felt that Horsley-Witten and COG weren't the right fit. Mr. Wilmer agreed with Mr. Kalauskas. Mr. Revilak liked COG's proposal, but he's been out of town and hasn't had the opportunity to review the others. Mr. Klein liked RKG.

Among the group, it seems like RKG and VHB have the most favorable responses.

Ms. Zwirko liked RKG, VHB, and Horsley-Witten. Two of the review criteria relate to project references, and she feels the need to make phone calls.

Mr. Kalauskas thinks it's important to include subcontractors in the interview process. Mr. Wilmer agrees.

Ms. Heidell feels that one person should interview all of the references, and ask the same questions to each one. Mr. Wilmer believes that both project reference criteria are related to management. He asks that references be asked a question about the substance of their project.

Ms. Zwirko will try to wrap up the reference checks by next Wednesday. She'll summarize their answers, and provide them to working group members for review.

Potentially, we'll be able to start in-person interviews on Oct 2nd. Mr. Kalauskas, Mr. Wilmer, and Mr. Revilak are interested in participating.

Ms. Heidell asks if we'll be able to see prices before the interviews start. Ms. Raitt says that prices are sent separately, and we only open the envelope for the firm we choose. This is part of the town's purchasing policy.


Approval of Minutes. We'll postpone a vote on minutes until Mr. Worden can attend. In the interim, Ms. Zwirko will post draft minutes on the town website.


Project Updates. Work on the sustainable transportation plan will start soon. The working group has formed, and their first meeting is on September 25th.

The town posted an RFP to develop residential design review guidelines, but no one responded to the RFP. Ms. Zwirko will try to obtain feedback on why there were no responses, and may re-post the RFP.

For spring town meeting, there will likely be warrant articles relating to Arlington's MS-4 permit. These are things we need to do to comply with the state's new stormwater laws.

Someone asks what the residential study group is working on. They're not working on anything at the moment.

Someone asks if there's any news about the Mugar property. There's no word on Mugar yet.