The Arlington Zoning Board of Appeals held a meeting to discuss a proposed project at 10 Sunnyside Avenue. The project, submitted by the Housing Corporation of Arlington, involves the redevelopment of an existing site in the vehicular-oriented business district. The project is unique as it is entirely affordable, with a substantial number of deeply discounted affordable units.
- Details of the Proposed Project:
The proposed project is located on a bus line, near bicycle paths, and within a few hundred feet of several bus lines. The project involves the construction of 43 residential units and 600 square feet of commercial space on the first floor, intended to be used as a management office by the Housing Corporation of Arlington. The project requires a number of waivers, but not a significant amount as it generally aligns with the bylaw for the district in terms of height and other factors.
- Improvement Over the Current Site:
The project is seen as a significant improvement over the current site, which is an underutilized auto body shop. The redevelopment aligns with the town and state’s goals to have housing near transit and retail shops. The project is expected to bring Arlington closer to its necessary thresholds for affordable housing.
- Board’s Decision Process:
The board has 180 days to hear the case and close the public hearing unless the parties mutually agree to an extension. Once the hearing begins, the board has 15 days to notify the applicant if it will be declaring safe harbor under any of the provisions under state law. After the public hearing is closed, the board has 40 days to render a decision unless the parties mutually agree to extend. The board’s decision can either grant the application, grant it subject to various conditions designed to protect local needs and interests, or deny the project.
- Design Plans and Civil Engineering Aspects:
The committee discussed the preliminary design plans, which include a streetscape with new street trees, a sidewalk, and a curb cut. The building is designed to have a front porch-like feature to accommodate the grade change across the site. The site utilities and stormwater design for the project were presented, which include new utilities for the site, a stormwater management system, and a plan to address town engineering comments.
- Concerns and Suggestions:
Concerns were raised about the open space on the second floor, the visibility and width of the proposed garage opening, and the need for a crosswalk at Broadway. The committee suggested that the applicant consider creating a crosswalk at that location and clarify what would be served by the gas service included in the project.
- Inclusion of Gas Service in the Project: The committee members sought clarification on what would be served by the gas service. The project team confirmed that they were pursuing pass-up out certification, which they had intended to do even before the town adopted the specialized stretch code. This certification has now become a requirement, and the team expressed their enthusiasm about complying with this new requirement. The team’s preliminary plan is to use the gas service to service the domestic hot water plant. They explained that this continues to be the most cost-effective and efficient way to provide hot water for buildings of the project’s size. The options for doing this in an energy-efficient way, following the pass-up out standard, are fairly limited. Beyond centralized gas plants, there are some newer technologies to do it through air source heat pumps that are electric or to do it on an individualized electric resistance basis. However, these alternatives are more challenging and costly, both from a first-class perspective and in terms of operation. The team is considering whether it makes sense to be an early adopter for a system like this that will allow them to be 100% electric, or if they should plan for future electrification. This is a prerequisite of the pass-up out standard and something that they would be doing anyway.
- Continuation of the Hearing and Future Meetings: The committee agreed to continue the hearing until May 16, 2023, and adjourned the meeting. The committee also noted that they would begin deliberations on a separate comprehensive permit application for 1021-1027 Massachusetts Avenue on May 11, 2023.