The Select Board at its Feb. 24 meeting  discussed 10 Town Meeting articles, supporting nine of them and voting no action on a plea to establish a committee on residential development. All are to be voted on at the 2020 Town Meeting, starting April 27.

Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019

The board voted unanimously to back the following:

Article 7 – Bylaw Amendment/Regulation of Outdoor Lighting-Uplighting, which would exempt uplighting for buildings used for religious and commercial purposes.

Article 8 – Bylaw Amendment/Minuteman Bikeway, which would allow the Minuteman Bikeway to be open in the evening at a time set and posted by the town manager between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.

The following articles were voted on, and seven were approved:

Article 9 – Bylaw Amendment/Canine Control Fees and Fines

The board unanimously approved reducing dog renewal late fees, from $50 to $25. 

“The fine is too high so people are not registering their dogs. This will hopefully increase compliance,” said Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine.

Article 10 – Bylaw Amendment/Display of Notice Fines

The board unanimously approved reducing fines for violations greater than 20 days, from $500 to $300.

Article 11 – Bylaw Amendment/Street Performance Definitions

The board unanimously approved expanding the definition of “perform” to allow items for sale, amend the prohibition of street performances in town parks and recreation areas, and change the term “street performers” to “outdoor performers.”

Thomas Davidson, Commission for Arts and Culture member, said, “Our goal is to allow visual artists to take the last hour of events to sell items, which would enable more Arlington artists to participate, and engage more Arlington residents with the arts.”

Board member John Hurd said, “I’m excited to see a bylaw amendment that encourages more street performers. We need more arts and music in Arlington. However, I’m a little wary of allowing vendors in public parks. Are there any restrictions about the types of vendors?”

Town Counsel Doug Heim replied: “The Park and Recreation Commission has a long-standing policy of what they allow, and has to approve any commercial activity in the parks. This bylaw doesn’t prohibit vendor activity, and it’s a clever way to introduce new products into the parks. I recommend that these things be based on objective criteria as much as possible.”

Article 12 – Bylaw Amendment/Stormwater Management 

The board unanimously approved updating the bylaw to clarify its procedures and applicability.

Bill Copithorne, assistant town engineer, said, “This amendment is actually a rebranding of the current storm-water management bylaw in order to remove the existing bylaw’s vagueness.”

Environmental Planner Emily Sullivan said,“The rules and regulations are still under development, and we hope to have a draft of these rules/regulations within a few weeks. Many residents are engaged and interested in this topic, and this gives them an opportunity to provide feedback.”

Article 15 – Vote/Establishment of Town Committee on Residential Development

The board unanimously supported no action on establishing a Town Meeting committee to examine current issues related to residential development.

“This warrant article would create a shadow Redevelopment Board (ARB) organization because this is what the ARB does, and its members have expertise in these areas.

“There are governance concerns the way it’s currently laid out. It’s structured to mimic the authority of the Redevelopment Board. Creating a body that would jockey for power with the ARB would be dangerous,” said Chapdelaine.

Board member Dan Dunn said, “I compound what the town manager said. A month ago we had a joint meeting with the ARB. Because we foresaw proposals like this, we created a detailed plan to engage the Select Board and ARB to take articles being proposed and lay them out for public comment.

“I strongly want to allow the current process to run its course before we try something else.”

Member Joseph Curro Jr. said, “I also want to see how the process we’ve gone through with the ARB plays out. Some of the issues listed are already subject to public hearings. I’m not inclined to set up another structure committee just as we’re getting off the ground.”

Paul Parise, the bylaw proponent, recommended that development activities be minimized as much as possible. “The size and scale of new construction causes the loss of sunlight and privacy, which is made more onerous when an abutter is on a nonconforming lot. It’s time to mitigate these potential issues with active resident action and feedback. This group wouldn’t propose bylaws, but address issues that residents cannot raise to appropriate bodies in town.”

Don Seltzer also favors forming this committee. “The concerns of residents that led Town Meeting to create a Residential Study Group still exist, and it would not supplement the Redevelopment Board. This committee would address some of these concerns, and failure to do so will send a far different message.”

Article 18 – Vote/Bylaw Amendment/Envision Arlington Updated Language 

The board unanimously approved renaming “Vision 2020” to “Envision Arlington” and redefining “town goals” as value statements in order to clarify their purpose and make them more inclusive.

Juli Brazile, bylaw proponent, said, “It’s a nice idea on our 30th anniversary to update some of the wording and to start a process of labeling goals as value statements. When work is happening, you have vision statements, goals and action steps to carry them out.”

Article 22 – Home Rule Legislation/Justin Brown 

The board unanimously approved favorable action on home-rule legislation, along with an as-yet-to-be-determined sensible sunset clause, up to two years. This would enable resident Brown to be eligible for appointment as a firefighter in Arlington, though he is 32 years old.

Heim explained: “In order to sit for a police or firefighter exam, test takers must be under 32 years old. However, this can be circumvented by legislation, which it has been from time to time.”

Dunn added, “The Civil Service needs reform, because I don’t think it’s servicing our town employees very well. I’d much prefer to let the police chief and hiring process find the right people.”

Applicant Brown said, “I hope you’ll consider home rule because I’m 38 years old, and am interested in and passionate about servicing our community in a first-responder activity. Other towns allow higher age limits, but I’d rather be eligible in Arlington. My family and I have lived here for 10 years, and hope to stay forever.

Article 66 – Vote/Community Preservation Plan

The board unanimously endorsed the Community Preservation Plan adopted by the Community Preservation Act Committee, as requested by landscape architect and former board member Clarissa Rowe. “A positive vote will give it more substance,” she said.

Community Preservation Act Committee presentation

The board unanimously received a Community Preservation Act Committee presentation by Eric Helmut, chair, and Rowe, vice chair. See the presentation here >>

“This dedicated funding preserves Arlington’s beauty for three important areas: historic preservation, open space and recreation, and community housing. Matching funds allow us to take and use these funds do more projects. However, the CPA committee is only the gatekeeper. Town meeting writes the checks and makes the final decisions.

The CPA recommends the following projects:

  • Historic preservation of Jason Russell House, one of Arlington’s most important historic treasures;
  • Mill Brook and Wellington Park revitalization, to open up the park to Mill Brook;
  • Arlington Reservoir improvements, to improve the pathway around the reservoir;
  • Old Burying Ground, to restore the stone boundary wall;
  • Robbins Memorial Garden, to restore the plantings to the original Olmsted brothers' design;
  • Open space and recreation plan;
  • Communitywide archaeological survey;
  • Documentation of historic municipal resources; and
  • Minuteman Bikeway planning, to look at the long-term needs of Arlington’s sector, including infrastructure improvements.

“It’s good to see so much investment into our historic structures,” said Hurd.

Villa House of Pizza renamed as Boston Pizza & Curry

Villa House of Pizza, 1367 Mass. Ave., in the Heights, is now named Boston Pizza & Curry, per unanimous board approval. The menu remains the same.

Appointments/reappointments

The board unanimously approved the following appointment:

  • Commission for Arts and Culture – Tom Formicola (term expires June 30, 2021)

Formicola, Arlington Center for the Arts' executive director, has been on the Arlington Cultural Council for six years. “I’m ready to immerse myself in the town’s cultural scene, and feel lucky to have been invited by my colleagues,” said Formicola.

Board Chair Diane Mahon said, “I’m duly impressed with what you’ll be bringing to Arlington.”

The board unanimously approved the following reappointments:

  • Commission for Arts and Culture – Stephen Poltorzycki (term expires Jan. 31, 2023)
  • Library Board of Trustees – Joyce Radochia (term expires June 30, 2023)
Special license

The board unanimously approved a special one-day beer-and-wine license:

  • Robbins Memorial Town Hall, private event, March 14
New election workers

The board unanimously approved four new election workers:

  • Susan Born, Pct. 6
  • Geraldine Pedrini, Pct. 21
  • Virginia Shannon, Pct. 9
  • Benjamin Wall, Pct. 13 

This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Monday, March 9, 2020.