Zoning Recodification Neighborhood Meeting - Feb 1st, 2018
Held at the Hardy school. Approximately 18 attending.
Jenny Raitt begins with her presentation on Zoning Recodification. Jenny added several new points to this version: she estimates that ZRWG members put in over 1,000 hours of volunteer time; Arlington's ZBL has been amended 442 times since 1977; and, there were 49 interviews conducted during the zoning diagnostic phase of the project.
After the opening presentation, we move to public comment and questions.
Question: if this is just a cleanup, then why are there so many questions and concerns about it?
David Watson and I answer. It's been an iterative process, and we've had to balance the desire to clean things up against the preference to leave things as they are. Think of what an inconsistency is -- two places in the bylaw that should say the same thing, but they don't quite agree. Consistency means changing one of them, but we didn't want that to lead to a different interpretation. Sometimes we fixed inconsistencies; other times, we felt it was better to leave things as they were.
Joanne: There was a lot of confusion during the July meeting. A citizens group went through this document and found 181 issues. It's a worthwhile project, but there are only so many elected bodies in town. The recodification would move some procedures into board rules and regulations, and town meeting -- our elected officials -- won't be able to vote on them. That's too big a step. I think it would be more democratic to leave the procedures in the zoning bylaw.
Question: Will this change any of the zoning boundaries in town?
No, none of the district boundaries are changing. None of the dimensional and density requirements are changing. The use table is not changing, except where we were out of compliance with state law.
Question: If there's a use we don't like, when can we do something about it?
After the recodification process. You can submit a warrant article to town meeting (by yourself or through a town meeting member), or you can work with the ARB to propose the change.
Question: Does the recodification include mixed use?
Yes, the recodification includes all zoning bylaw amendments through the 2017 annual town meeting.
Wynelle Evans: Wynelle notes that the removal of submittal procedures is allowed by statute. However, some of the submittal procedures probably came out of very specific circumstances. Wynelle believes she's found two more issues with the proposed recodification. She believes that section 5.3.3 doesn't cover side yard setbacks of multiple buildings on the same lot, as they're regulated in section 6.03 of the current zoning bylaw. Wynelle also believes that the regulations for above ground pools (section 6.18 of the current ZBL) have disappeared. Finally, she believes that landscaped tables were easier to read and understand.
Adam Auster: I've heard debates where one person says "this is a policy change" while another says "no, it's not". I hope we can sort through this at town meeting. I'd like to hear what the arguments are.
Joanne: People aren't against the process. But it started too soon and it needs more time. It seems rushed.
David Watson: the ARB voted no action on the matter of bringing the zoning recodification before regular town meeting. This is complicated stuff. There will be a crop of new town meeting members for regular town meeting, and there will have been no outreach to them; they'll have to be brought up to speed. If the recodification doesn't pass in February, it will likely have to wait for a special town meeting in the fall. This will also delay work on substantive changes for a year or so. The ARB had reasons for going with the timing.
Joanne: But we want a really good document that has the support of everyone.
Comment: the current zoning bylaw has some ambiguous language about minor accessory structures, like doghouses and sheds. The new language is very clear, and I understand that's what you wanted to do. But the recodification is very clear about allowing structures in the front yard. Would the ARB consider striking the word "front" from that section?
Town meeting members can propose amendments, but these have to be submitted to the moderator by Monday. You can propose this change if you're a town meeting member. You can also ask a town meeting member to propose it for you.