Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

Redevelopment Board, March 04, 2024

Zoning Bylaw Amendment Article 30: Shaded Parking Lot

Proposal Details

The article proposed by Green Arlington seeks to amend the zoning bylaw to require shaded parking lots, suggesting one shade tree per eight parking spaces or photovoltaic canopies covering at least 50% of the parking area. It aims to provide a balance between paved areas and greenery to enhance the environment, reduce heat, and improve air quality.

Illustrative Example

A simulated example showcased how the Whole Foods parking lot could incorporate a combination of trees and solar panels, leading to a more environmentally friendly design while also accommodating parking requirements.

Board and Public Comments

The board and the public inquired about the specifics of applying the requirements, potential design flexibility, and the execution of such amendments. The board agreed to reserve final discussion and voting for the last night of hearings.

Zoning Bylaw Amendment Article 31: Addition to MBTA Neighborhood District

Proposal to Include Additional Parcel

John Leone proposed adding 5-7 Winter Street, a historically significant property, to the MBTA neighborhood district, allowing for potential development consistent with surrounding multi-family zoning.

Public Comments and Board Clarifications

Concerns raised included the compatibility with historical designation and potential implications for the property should specifications for building dimensions and redevelopment change. There was also a request to clarify the state’s approval process and status of the MBTA neighborhood district zoning.

Zoning Bylaw Amendment Article 32: Traffic Visibility

Proposal Details

Caitlin Monahan proposed an amendment to section 5.3.12, aligning restrictions on fences and vegetation around driveways and corners to maintain traffic visibility. The proposal seeks to allow fences taller than 3ft unless they obstruct visibility.

Board and Public Feedback

Board members sought clarification on enforcement responsibilities and potential changes to visibility criteria. Public feedback suggested that the bylaw is sufficient as is and that changes could affect safety and aesthetic consistency.

Zoning Bylaw Amendment Article 33: Rear Yard Setbacks in the Business District

Proposal Details

Andy Greenspan sought to modify rear yard setback requirements in the business district, allowing for taller buildings without increasing the setback for all stories, only those above three stories.

Public Comments

There were concerns about the accuracy of the presented diagrams and the implications for adjacent residential properties. It was suggested that the amendment would create inconsistency and might not be timely, given recent extensive zoning changes.

Zoning Bylaw Amendment Article 34: Residential Uses

Proposal for Two and Three-Family Dwellings

JP Bowdoin proposed allowing two-family and three-family dwellings by right across Arlington while maintaining existing dimensional requirements. The proponents discussed potential impacts on housing options and town finances.

Public Input

Discussion was robust, with members of the public expressing varied opinions, from supporting increased housing options to concerns over rushed decision-making and the effectiveness of promoting affordability. The proposal’s potential environmental impact was also debated.

Board Response and Future Consideration

The board acknowledged the proposal’s merit but expressed caution about proceeding without more public engagement and a cleared understanding of its implications in the context of the recently passed MBTA communities zoning. The need for revising related bylaw definitions and considering alternatives, such as step-back requirements, was discussed.

Public Hearing Concluded

Following public comment on articles 30 through 34, the board decided to continue discussing and voting on the proposals at the next scheduled meeting on March 18, 2024. The meeting closed with no new business presented, and the board adjourned.



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