Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019

UPDATED April 25: The Select Board on Wednesday, April 20, voted, 4-0, with John Hurd absent, to adopt the new five-year housing plan. See the plan here >>

This year’s Town Meeting will deliberate this plan, under Article 38, aiming to allow two-family construction in districts currently restricted to single-family homes. Article 38’s definitions of R0 and R1 districts have changed from “single-family district” to “residential,” to include two-family and duplex dwellings.

The vote is subject to two minor amendments, including deleting a reference to the housing authority. The changes can be done administratively, and discussed at Town Meeting in context of the housing plan.

“No need to go back to the Redevelopment Board,” said board Chair Len Diggins.

Jennifer Raitt, planning and community development director, concurred. “I’ll inform the Redevelopment Board of the changes. It needn’t go back to them on another vote.”

Board’s input

Board member Steve DeCourcey said, “I’m struggling with Article 38’s goal to allow two-family homes in single-family districts, and having it listed as a short-term recommendation, but overall am pleased with the housing production plan as a whole. I’m particularly concerned about the statement, ‘The AHA lacks resources to manage their properties,’ and would like it struck from the report.”

Board member Diane Mahon also had issues with Article 38. “I’m concerned about allowing two-family homes in single-family districts, and want to have this discussion at Town Meeting. However, I’m happy to support it with DeCourcey’s two caveats.”

“This is a well-researched, thought-out and useful plan that will be an important new guide for the housing trust,” said board member Eric Helmuth, the Select Board’s designee to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) board. “The trustees appreciate the care that the Select Board is taking, and this plan will be an important guide for the AHTF.

“However, I also have reservations about Article 38, but we’re just getting the process started. I see the plan as a menu of 42 different strategies, and adopting the plan won’t mean trying to do everything in five years. The intent of the housing authority statements is to highlight the need for investment. I understand that the housing authority pursues Section 8 vouchers rather than adding housing, but believe that’s due to current state policy.”

Diggins hopes the Select Board and Redevelopment Board can conduct joint meetings. “I think many people will support doing something in the area of housing.”

Raitt was to update Article 38 with the board’s suggested amendments, “which will make the plan more desirable.”

Also see this summary of the housing discussion by Steve Revilak, a member of the Redevelopment Board who provides notes as a public service. 

Watch the whole April 20 board meeting on ACMi:

April 11, 2022: Virtual Town Meeting, in-person Town Day OK'd

This news brief by YourArlington freelancer Susan Gilbert was published Thursday, April 20, 2022, and updated April 25, to add comments and ACMi video window.