Meeting Minutes Review
January 8, 2024 Minutes Correction
During the review of the meeting minutes from January 8, 2024, a minor correction was noted by Eugene Benson. He pointed out a missing apostrophe in “trust funds” on the third page. No other additions or corrections were reported from the other ARB members. The board motioned and unanimously approved the amended minutes.
January 22, 2024 Minutes Approval
The ARB then proceeded to review the meeting minutes from January 22, 2024. No corrections or additions were presented and the board unanimously approved these minutes as well.
Master Plan Implementation Committee
Disbanding and Forming a New Committee
Claire Ricker from the Department of Planning and Community Development discussed the formation of a new Master Plan Advisory Committee, replacing the old Master Plan Implementation Committee which has been inactive for over a year. The board unanimously voted to disband the existing committee in preparation for establishing the new advisory committee. A kickoff webinar was scheduled for February 29 to solicit volunteers for the new committee, with applications opening March 1.
Board Rules and Regulations
Rule 18 Update on Sign Approval
Eugene Benson made suggested updates to Rule 18 regarding administrative approval of certain signs. The updated wording aimed to provide clearer guidelines for applicants, the ARB, and the DPCD. It was discussed that administrative review is discretionary and it may bring certain sign applications before the board for consideration. The updated rule also allowed for denial of applications that are incomplete or inaccurate. It was agreed to advertise this update for approval at the next meeting.
Discussion on Signage Enforcement
Ken raised issues about signage enforcement, acknowledging that Inspectional Services is overwhelmed and suggesting the possibility of enforcement responsibilities being shifted to enable more effective oversight. Gene mentioned the possibility of creating a town bylaw for signs separate from zoning. Discussion ensued about creating a shared position to enforce the ARB’s special permit conditions and signage code compliance. Claire committed to continuing conversations with the town manager and other relevant parties about creating this shared position.
Review and Update of Commercial Design Guidelines
The board discussed updating the 2015 design guidelines, focusing on commercial areas like Mass Ave and Broadway. It was recognized that many standards from those guidelines are now part of the zoning bylaws, but updates were needed to reflect the latest zoning changes. There was a consensus on the need to be more explicit about materials and styles, reference relevant bylaws, and include updated environmental standards. Claire mentioned that there is a budget for a consultant and intends to prepare an RFP in the next couple of months for updating these guidelines.
Project Updates on 882 to 892 Massachusetts Avenue
Concerns on Louvers and Paint Spec
Claire updated the board regarding ongoing discussions with the developer regarding the louvers’ samples and paint specifications for the storefronts. The board expressed the desire for these samples and a written description of the paint specs.
Affordable Units Regulatory Agreement
Claire also informed the board about the state’s review process for the regulatory agreement on affordable units. There was concern about potential non-compliance with minimum square footage requirements for designated affordable units in upcoming projects. Claire committed to working closely with the developer to avoid repeat issues similar to those at 882 Mass Ave.
Concerns about Affordable Units at Other Projects
A resident brought up concerns regarding non-compliance with affordable unit size requirements at two other properties under development by the same developer responsible for 882 Mass Ave. Claire noted these concerns and agreed to discuss with the developer the need for compliant affordable units.
The ARB adjourned with no new business and plans to vote on the discussed rule updates at the next meeting.