Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

Town Meeting, October 23, 2023

continued from October 19

Opening Remarks

The moderator opened the meeting and announced that there would be bake sales during the meeting to raise funds. He also thanked the youth of Arlington for their engagement on the important issue of housing to be discussed at the meeting.

Article 12 – MBTA Communities Overlay District

The chair of the Redevelopment Board gave a presentation introducing Article 12, which seeks to create overlay districts for multifamily zoning in Arlington to address the MBTA Communities legislation passed by the state in 2021. The presentation provided background on the legislation, details on the proposed overlay districts, and an overview of the community engagement process over the past year to develop the proposal. Key points:

  • The state law requires communities served by the MBTA to change zoning to allow multifamily housing by right in certain areas.
  • The proposal includes overlay districts along major transit corridors in Arlington Heights, East Arlington and Arlington Center.
  • The zoning changes are aligned with Arlington’s housing, transportation, and environmental goals expressed in various town plans.
  • Failing to comply with the law could result in loss of state funding and liability under fair housing laws.

Debate on Article 12 Amendments

Multiple amendments were introduced and explained by their proponents. The amendments sought changes related to building heights, density bonuses, affordability requirements, open space, and other aspects of Article 12.

Speakers shared a diversity of perspectives, with some arguing certain amendments would improve the proposal and others contending they would undermine key objectives. Concerns were raised about potential impacts on town finances, neighborhoods, housing affordability and other issues.

Proponents of Article 12 as written by the Redevelopment Board defended the proposal as reflecting significant community input and a balanced approach to comply with the state law. They warned against amendments that could push the zoning changes out of compliance.

No votes were taken as debate will continue at the next meeting.


The moderator thanked participants for a thoughtful and respectful debate. The meeting was adjourned until the following Wednesday evening to continue debate on Article 12.



Inside Arlington was created by two Arlingtonians who are deeply concerned by the decline in local news and its impact on civic life. Our mission is to provide accessible information to Arlington residents to foster an informed and engaged citizenry. And we want to do it in an economically sustainable way. More…


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