Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

Redevelopment Board, December 18, 2023

Proposed Warrant Article – Inland Wetland District

The Conservation Commission proposed removing the Inland Wetland District from the zoning bylaw. The district was created before the Wetlands Protection Act and is now duplicative and erroneous compared to the Conservation Commission’s jurisdiction. The Zoning Board of Appeals agrees the district is outmoded and supports removing it. A member of the public commented that it would be useful to specify exactly how removing the district would reduce wetlands protections compared to the Conservation Commission’s jurisdiction. The board was supportive of the proposal to remove the district.

Proposed Warrant Article – Open Space Zoning

The Conservation Commission proposed rezoning 68 parcels currently used as open space to an Open Space zoning district. This would align zoning with the parcels’ ownership and management. The parcels include cemeteries, parks, conservation land, recreation land, and some private open space. Board members raised concerns about rezoning private open space and noted some parcels don’t meet the definition of Open Space district. They suggested having further discussion with stakeholders like the Cemetery Commission. The board felt more review is needed before bringing this proposal to Town Meeting.

Proposed Zoning Bylaw Amendments from ZBA

The Zoning Board of Appeals proposed several zoning bylaw amendments:

  • Clarify the definitions of attached and detached buildings to address gaps. The board supported this.
  • Allow using average street setback for additions to non-vacant lots. The board wants more discussion with Inspectional Services on current interpretation.
  • Remove redundant Floodplain and Inland Wetland districts. Already discussed.
  • Fix numbering system in Accessory Dwelling Unit section. Supported.
  • Comprehensively review parking regulations. Supported for future review.
  • Clarify allowing Accessory Dwelling Units within 6 feet of lot lines applies to new and existing structures. Board wants more discussion on intent and interpretation.

Proposed Parking Lot Shade Requirements

Green Streets Arlington proposed requiring 50% tree canopy coverage in parking lots after 15 years. Concerns were raised about burden on small lots in Arlington, need for exemptions like contaminated sites, and financial feasibility. The board did not support proposing this zoning amendment but is open to incorporating elements when reviewing parking regulations in the future.

Review of Permitted Projects

The board reviewed 882 Mass Ave, which deviated from approved plans. It requested the developer attend the next meeting with a mitigation plan and will consider reopening the special permit. The board also requested an update on 455 Mass Ave.

Fox Library Housing Feasibility Study

The town received a $77,000 grant to study feasibility of building housing above a rebuilt Fox Library. This could provide needed affordable housing. Board members were excited about the potential and look forward to the study results.



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