Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

Zoning changes in 3D, setbacks and green space

Arlington Redevelopment Board, July 24, 2023

  • The board reviewed and approved the minutes from meetings held on February 27, April 3, and June 26, 2023.
  • The board discussed the development of a 3D model to visualize potential zoning changes and their impact on the town’s landscape. The model, still in its early stages, is based on an existing model of Mass Ave and Broadway. The board considered adding features like the new high school and other buildings along Mass Ave, and a layer to represent the MBTA communities requirement. The model could be used for public presentations, but concerns were raised about its current lack of detail.
  • An updated map for the town was discussed, showing cleaner edges to the south and north, particularly along the Broadway corridor. The working group recommended zero minimum parking requirements and a maximum of four stories for the Mass Ave and Broadway dimensions.
  • The board discussed zoning and building regulations, including setback requirements and height restrictions. The possibility of incentivizing the construction of mixed-use buildings was discussed, as well as changing the front yard setback in the neighborhood multi-family district. The board decided to conduct a walking tour along Mass Ave to assess the current zoning and building regulations.
  • The board discussed the neighborhood multi-family dimensions, agreeing on a maximum height of four stories with no bonus for reaching this height. The idea of having taller buildings on the borders of the neighborhood was also discussed. The board agreed to have conversations about two different maps simultaneously.
  • The board discussed building setbacks, tree canopies, and their impact on the environment and community. Suggestions were made to include provisions for tree canopies in the zoning plans; specifically to increase the setback to accommodate trees. Concerns were raised about the potential unintended consequences of incentives for mixed-use, affordable housing, and green space. The board acknowledged the concerns and suggestions of the public and assured them that they would be taken into consideration in their decision-making process.
  • The board discussed scheduling the town meeting and the possibility of submitting their zoning to the state for a pre-adoption review. The issue of inclusionary housing in relation to the MBTA communities overlay was also discussed, with the board agreeing to conduct an economic feasibility analysis to determine the impact of a 15% requirement on development.



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