Zoning Recodification Working Group - Mar 1st, 2017
RKG has provided a memo, which critiques our zoning bylaw. The memo goes through the bylaw section by section.
RKG suggests removing the inline references to where the zoning bylaw was changed. That information can be presented in other ways. For example, it could be placed in an Appendix. Right now, it just clutters up the text.
The ZBL uses indentation inconsistently, and it's easy to lose your place when reading through the bylaw. Long sections should be broken up. We should do more to guide the reader through the document. Internal cross-references should be hyperlinks. Existing diagrams and illustrations should be re-done, and we should add new diagrams and illustrations, where they'd help to explain important concepts. Several of the ZBL's definitions contain regulatory material; regulations and definitions should be kept separate.
We'll need to check for conflicts between section six of the ZBL and the town's wetlands protection act.
The section that deals with signs should ideally be moved to town bylaws, but that's a bigger policy change. Part of our sign bylaws violate the Reed ruling. (I presume that this refers to Reed v. Town of Gilbert, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reed_v._Town_of_Gilbert.)
A number of things in Arlington's ZBL don't comport with current case law. There are several examples of this in ZBL section 9.
The submission requirements for special permits shouldn't be part of the ZBL; they should be departmental regulations. There's no reason for having to go to town meeting to (say) change the number of plan copies submitted for a special permit.
Section 11 (special regulations) needs to be checked for compliance with current FEMA regulations.
Our environmental design review should be called a "site plan review". Perhaps the term was in favor when our ZBL was written, but site plan review is the term of choice today. The criteria for site plan review could be moved from special regulations to the section on administration and enforcement. What you ask people to submit should be driven by the permit's decision criteria. People should be able to understand why the need to submit the material they need to submit.
To the extent possible, avoid ZBL language that duplicates MGL Ch. 40A. Let the state statute be the state statute.
RKG plans to do three drafts of the recodification. The Zoning Recodification working group is the intended audience for the first draft. The first draft will probably require the most rework. That should be ready around the time that town meeting starts -- in late April.
The second reading draft can be presented at a public meeting. This will probably happen during the summer. Again, we expect more feedback, and to make more changes. The third reading draft should basically be a finished product that can go before town meeting.
We decide on Wed. July 13th as a potential date for the first public meeting (to present the second reading draft).