Zoning Board of Appeals - Aug 24th, 2021

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Held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1392.

Approval of Minutes

The board approves minutes from their May 18 and May 25, 2021 meetings.

Comprehensive Permit - 1165R Mass Ave

The board voted to close 1165R Mass Ave's public hearing at a previous meeting. Tonight, we'll discuss the draft decision. With the public hearing closed, the board cannot take comments from the applicant or public. The draft decision is a 38 page document, and we'll work through it paragraph by paragraph.

Pat Hanlon (ZBA) would like to clarify whether "application" refers to the original application or the final product that came out of the hearing process. He also asks if "Application" should be a defined term in the document. Paul Haverty (council to the ZBA) suggests making the word a defined term that refers to the final version of the plans.

The board discusses if it's necessary to list all of the hearing dates in the decision. Mr. Haverty believes the board could do this, but there's no requirement to do so. The board settles on specifying the date when the public hearing was opened, and the date when the public hearing was closed.

The board reviews the list of consultants for the applicant. They'd like to add the utility consultant and Daniel St. Clair of Spaulding and Slye to the list.

There's a similar review for the list of peer review consultants used by the board.

Under factual findings, the board would like to note that the project is located in an industrial district, where residential uses are not ordinarily allowed.

For item 24, the board would like to verify that all plantings will be native species. One board member recalls there being a mix of natives and non-natives. Mr. Haverty will review correspondence from the Conservation Commission and BETA.

The section on transportation networks lists the points of access to the property. The board wishes to correct the omission of Quinn Road. They'd also like to note the utility pole that's sitting in the Mass Ave right of way, the close proximity to the Minuteman Bikeway, and the MBTA bus service on Mass Ave.

Item 31 describes long-term bicycle parking facilities. The board would like to mention the number of short-term bicycle parking spaces.

In the section on Conditions, A.2.2 contains a blank table that's reserved for plans submitted to the Conservation Commission, but not to the ZBA. We don't believe there are any such plans; if that's the case, A.2.2 should be removed.

Section A.10 uses the word "perpetuity", but in a slightly different way than the rest of the document. One meaning is "forever" and another is "for as long as local bylaws would render this project uneconomic without the benefits of this comprehensive permit". There's a small ambiguity; the board and Mr. Haverty discuss how to avoid it.

Section B.3 discusses the Affirmatively Fair Housing Marketing Plan (AFHMP) requirements. Steve Revilak (ZBA) reads a comment submitted by Karen Kelleher, suggesting that the board have input into the AFHMP. Mr. Haverty states that that acceptance of the AFHMP is at the sole discretion of the subsidizing agency, and something the board has no jurisdiction over.

Section B.4 covers local preferences. The draft decision states that the board chooses not to impose a local preference requirement. Mr. Revilak supports this position. Mr. Hanlon does as well. As he's stated earlier, Arlington is not a very diverse community, and local preference requirement is likely to limit diversity in tenant selection. He'd like these affordable units to be available to people that are currently living in other communities. Roger Dupont (ZBA) points out that some of the language in this section can be removed, because it's only applicable when local preference requirements are in effect.

Section C.1.a proposes a cap on review costs; and was added at the request of the applicant. The board doesn't have a sense of what a reasonable dollar amount should be. Instead of citing a dollar amount, we'll say that review funds will only be used in cases where town staff lacks the expertise to perform the review.

Section E.1 requires the applicant to hold a public meeting before the commencement of construction. The board discusses how the meeting should be noticed. Abutters to abutters within 300 feet should obviously be included, but there are others who may be interested. For example, during one of the previous meetings, there was a suggestion to include the Ottoson School principal. The board feels that the applicants could establish a mailing list which includes statutory abutters, plus others who've expressed an interest in being notified about the project.

Section E.9 states that satellite dishes shall not be allowed. Several board members question this requirement. Mr. Haverty says it's a fairly common; as satellite dishes may not be aesthetically pleasing. The board believes this should be left up to the property managers. They also note that per-dwelling dishes aren't the only type there are. There's not a good reason to prohibit (say) a single satellite dish on the roof of the building.

Section E.11 references the "Building Department". In Arlington, that department is called "Inspectional Services". Mr. Haverty will make this change throughout the document.

Section E.26 imposes a requirement that the applicant perform pre- and post-construction photo/video surveys of the site, and the board wants to discuss whether this should be a condition. Mr. Revilak believes it's a common practice in major construction projects, and would be in the best interest of the applicant. For example, if someone claims that a roadway was damaged by construction vehicles, a set of before photographs can show whether such damage did or did not occur. Mr. Hanlon wants to clarify that this requirement is not a pre-supposition that damage will occur during construction. The board discusses what should be included in the photo/video surveys, and how to word the condition.

Section E.29 talks about pest control. The board agrees that pest control measures should be employed during construction, and there's a discussion about post-construction requirements.

Traffic circulation was discussed at length during the public hearings. Abutters were concerned about tenants driving north on Ryder St. and on Beck Road; the applicants agreed to post "no right turn" restrictions on the Ryder St. Driveway. The abutters wanted to see a punitive punishment for tenants that violated this restriction, and asked the applicants to impose fines. The subsidizing agency wouldn't agree to fines, so the applicants offered lease non-renewal as a form of punishment for traffic violations. This condition is captured in section F.4.d.

Mr. Hanlon suggests changing "lease will not be renewed" to "lease may not be renewed". Mr. Revilak would like to strike this whole section, noting that several of the abutters objected to lease non-renewal. The board agrees to change the language to say something like "shall make efforts to address repeated violations".

At this point, the board has gone through the first 26 pages. We'll stop here, and pick up with Section G at the next hearing.

The board votes to continue the hearing to September 2nd, at 7:30pm.

Upcoming Dates

Upcoming dates for the board are:

  • Sep 2. 1165R Mass Ave Decision
  • Sep 9. Thorndike Place
  • Sep 14. Regular hearings. There are 3 dockets schedules.
  • Sep 28. Thorndike Place (if needed)
  • Oct 8. Close of Thorndike place public hearing.
  • Oct 12th. Regular hearings. There are four dockets schedule.