Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

Select Board, March 18, 2024

The board discussed upcoming warrant articles.

Article 6 Bylaw Amendment: Vacant Storefront Maintenance Registry

Clarifying the Intention of the Bylaw

The proposed amendment clarifies the intention of the bylaw to target high-traffic commercial spaces along Massachusetts Avenue and Broadway. The amendment changes the bylaw’s title to “Vacant Main Street Storefronts,” defining these storefronts as “unoccupied non-residential, commercial, or industrial ground floor units with frontage along either Massachusetts Avenue or Broadway.” This change excludes properties that do not align with the bylaw’s intention and focuses on the more visible, prime commercial spaces.

Public Art Waiver Removal

The amendment proposes the removal of the public art waiver, which allowed property owners to be exempt from the vacant storefront fee by displaying public art. This provision was found to be challenging to execute, as the displayed art was not curated by experts, and the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture did not wish to oversee this process. The waiver’s removal will ensure that exemptions are consistent and do not take advantage of the artistic community by offering unpaid opportunities.

Board Discussion

The Select Board discussed the amendments’ rationale and its potential benefits. The amendments would refine the bylaw’s application, allowing for better enforcement and management of vacant main street storefronts.

Article 8 Bylaw Amendment: Annual Town Meeting Start Date

Adjusting Town Meeting Start Time

The article proposes adjusting the annual town meeting start time from 8 PM to 7:30 PM, with the meeting concluding at 10:30 PM. Proponents argue that an earlier end time would be beneficial for the health and well-being of town meeting members, many of whom find the current 11 PM conclusion too late. Additionally, it could encourage more residents to participate in town meeting, addressing concerns voiced by potential town meeting candidates regarding the late hours.

Public Hearing and Board Discussion

During the public hearing, feedback was sought from town meeting members and the general public. Town Moderator Greg Christiana presented survey results indicating a preference for an earlier start time among town meeting members, especially those with less tenure. The board discussed the potential impacts of changing the start time and its reception by town meeting members.

Article 10 Bylaw Amendment: Start Time for Annual Town Meeting

Flexibility for Town Meeting Start Date

The article aims to provide the Select Board with the flexibility to set alternative dates for the beginning of the annual town meeting to avoid conflicts with significant events or holidays, such as Passover. The amendment seeks to relax the current requirement of starting on the fourth Monday of April to allow the Select Board to establish a suitable date that accommodates all participants.

Public Hearing and Board Discussion

The Select Board acknowledged the need for discretion in setting the town meeting date and expressed support for the amendment. During the public hearing, the board recognized the importance of ensuring town meeting remains inclusive and accessible to all members of the community.

Article 11 Bylaw Amendment: Fossil Fuel Free Bylaw Language Changes

Aligning with DoER Model Rule

The article proposes changes to the existing fossil fuel-free bylaw to align with the Department of Energy Resources (DoER) model rule for communities participating in the Fossil Fuel Free Building Demonstration Program. The amendment includes additions and changes of use in the definition of major renovations, standardizing the application of the bylaw across participating communities and providing a clearer picture of the bylaw’s impact.

Board Discussion and Public Hearing

The Select Board discussed the proposed changes, noting the limited number of projects that would be affected by the amendment based on data from recent years. The changes were seen as a reasonable request from DoER for consistency and standardization. Public feedback was sought but no comments were made during the hearing.

Recalled Items

  • Discussions on Articles 8, 9, and 10 were interconnected, with Article 10 providing the Select Board discretion to set the town meeting date while Articles 8 and 9 focused on the start time. The Select Board grappled with these articles, emphasizing the importance of town meeting member input on the start time.
  • The Select Board consolidated discussions and considered collective action for Articles 8, 9, and 10, ultimately deciding to seek town meeting member input for the start time (Article 8) and approving flexibility for the start date (Article 10).



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…


Receive Inside Arlington by email: