Arlington Redevelopment Board - May 15th, 2023

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Meeting held in the first floor annex of Town Hall. Materials were available from

MBTA Communities Update

DPCD Director Claire Ricker gives the board a look at the first draft maps from Utile, which were created based on responses to the MBTA communities survey. There are two versions. Version one contains two sub-districts: Arlington Heights, and East Arlington, in the Broadway/Mass Ave triangle near Arlington Center. Version two has three sub districts: Arlington Heights, Arlington Center, and East Arlington near the Cambridge and Somerville borders. Both versions exclude parcels in the existing business and industrial districts.

Steve Revilak likes version two, but with version one's east Arlington district.

The size of the districts is based on three-family being allowed by right.

Board members generally favor the exclusion of the B districts, but there are also concerns about including residential parcels directly on the main corridors. Arlington's existing B districts are a small and somewhat disconnected patchwork, and there's discussion of omitting residential parcels that are near business districts on Mass Ave. That would allow for future re-zoning which connects those districts into something more cohesive. Kin Lau suggests omitting residential parcels that are adjacent to small business parcels, in order to provide a path for future parcel consolidation.

The board discusses height bonuses for ground floor commercial, using Lexington as an example. Some portions of Lexington's MBTA district allow three floors of residential, and give a two-story bonus for ground floor commercial.

There's discussion about charging an infrastructure fee. However, this may not be financially viable for three-family dwellings.

The median parcel size in these districts is around 5,000 square feet, which is workable for (say) triple-deckers. The board discusses whether it would be worthwhile to allows more units on larger parcels. For example, allowing six units by right means we'd probably get some affordable homes through inclusionary zoning.

Lexington sent postcards to all of the property owners in the proposed MBTA district. This sounds like a worthwhile thing for Arlington to do.

There will likely be additional funding to do renderings and graphics, and we're likely to keep Utile on for this work.

The MBTA Communities working group is planning to hold another public meeting on June 8th, to solicit feedback on the first iteration of maps.

New Business

No meeting on May 22nd.

We may have a hearing for Calyx Peak on June 5th. This would be Arlington's third dispensary.

The board's June 19th meeting will be moved to June 26th. June 19th is Juneteenth, which is a town holiday.

Also to do during June: review zoning articles for the B district, and set a meeting schedule for the last half of the year.

The board adjourns to town meeting.