Overnight parking sign

The Select Board in the fourth round of article hearings March 20 unanimously approved the Municipal Opt-In Specialized Stretch Energy Code, which regulates the design and construction of new buildings to manage energy effectively and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The vote was 4-0 (Steve DeCourcey was absent). 

Select Board logo, 2019

Massachusetts has three levels of building codes: (1) Base Code, (2) Stretch Code, and (3) Specialized Stretch Code. The Specialized Stretch Code builds upon the previous success of the Stretch Code, previously adopted by the town, in improving energy-efficiency requirements.

The code’s “primary mechanisms are heightened requirements for building envelopes that reduce the amount of energy required to heat and cool homes, and incentivized electrication, particularly for heating,” wrote Town Counsel Doug Heim in a memo to the board. Memo included here >>

Fox supports article

In promoting Article 10, Arlington’s Sustainability Manager Talia Fox said Arlington was one of first communities in the state to adopt the Stretch Code, developed in 2009 to provide enhanced building efficiency over the Base Code. 

“The town did this, in part, as a requirement for becoming a green community (a state-grant program that allows communities in the state to access competitive grant funds for energy-efficiency activities). Since 2010, when Arlington adopted the code, the town has received nearly $2 million in grants from green communities,” said Fox.

“Five other communities have already adopted the Specialized Stretch Code: Watertown, Somerville, Cambridge, Brookline and Newton, and 20 other communities plan to opt-in this year,” added Fox.

Clean Energy Future Committee Chair Ryan Katosfsky explained that Arlington has a net-zero action plan to get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. “It’s a long process to get there, and this warrant article is a roadmap along that journey.”

“This code will help us by making sure that new construction is compatible with the 2050 goal. If we look at the different sectors of the economy that we need to decarbonize, buildings are more challenging, and this is an important step to ensure that we have a decarbonized building sector by the target date,” added Katosfsky. 

Karen Kelleher, a Precinct 5 Town Meeting member, and Arlington’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund Board chair, said these code requirements for multifamily affordable housing will not be a barrier to developing affordable housing. “In fact, there’s a lot of alignment with state policy. This warrant article would just ensure consistency in incorporating this kind of energy efficiency and resiliency for affordable housing. It’s healthier for the residents because it provides cleaner air quality and a nicer living experience.”

Board member Eric Helmuth said he’s deeply proud that Arlington is a leader in sustainability and moving toward the critical goal of net zero in carbon emissions.

Resident Patrick Hanlon added, “It’s an important step that Arlington needs to take.”

Board favors digital legal notices

The board unanimously recommended allowing the town to satisfy its requirements for legal notices to be published on the town’s website and/or in a local digital newspaper. The vote was 3-0 (Eric Helmuth recused because of his legislative work).

Town Manager Sandy Pooler said his department heads are receptive to being able to choose putting a legal notice in either a local print paper or online source. Several expressed concern that if there’s no local paper at some point, it’ll be much more expensive to publish digital notices. 

Pooler said: “There’s a lot of perception, too, that the town website is probably a place where many people would go for information about legal notices or procedures, and we already do that. Department heads welcome a change to give them more flexibility. Otherwise, they’ll get stuck paying a lot of money for notices that run in The Boston Globe or Boston Herald, and I don’t know how many people in Arlington will look there to find this information.”

Although the board can also continue the current practice of publishing in a print newspaper, Globe ads cost four times more than the Arlington Advocate/Winchester Star, explained Heim.

Board supports Board of Youth Services changes

The board also unanimously voted (4-0) to recommend changing the name of the Board of Youth Services to the AYCC Advisory Board, removing residency requirements for members and updating board operations. (AYCC is the Arlington Youth Counseling Center acronym.)

Board of Youth Services member Kristen Barnicle said the organization is looking to “make updates to better reflect our role and ensure the board remains vibrant and reflective of the community. Our primary role is to provide support and guidance to the AYCC. We organize communitywide events where residents can hear speakers discuss mental health issues facing our youth, and collaborate with other town organizations to support youth. We’d like to change our name to the AYCC Advisory Board to accurately reflect this role.” 

A key reason the Board of Youth Services supports Article 15 is they have difficulty recruiting new members. “We developed a job description for board members, reduced our meeting schedule from monthly to quarterly and created subcommittees to work on specific initiatives. We anticipate that these changes will help with recruitment, and we’d like to create a more diverse and vibrant board, allowing non-Arlington residents to be members,” said Barnicle.

She also said the group plans to institute term limits―one- to three-year terms, with the opportunity to renew for a second three-year term―and have some flexibility about the number of board members, ranging between seven and 11 members, depending on how recruitment goes.

The Select Board discussed limiting the number of the group's nonresident board members to one-third of the organization, or three people.

AYCC Director Colleen Leger said this proposal will help them respond in a thoughtful and equitable way in meeting the needs of the community. Term limits and the involvement of providers who don’t live in the community could be a beneficial facet in advising AYCC. 

Board Chair Len Diggins said he’s happy to make their board more diverse. 

“Because of the cumulative stress on young families, especially with the pandemic and financial stresses, the need is greater to meet that need,” said Helmuth. 

Final votes on 9 articles

The board unanimously approved (4-0) the following previously discussed articles:

  • Article 9 Bylaw Amendment/Stenographic Record of Town Meeting
  • Article 12 Vote/Three-Year Moratorium on the Installation of Artificial Turf on Town Land
  • Article 13 Vote/Appointed Town Clerk
  • Article 16 Special Legislation/Appointment of Town Manager or Temporary Town Manager
  • Article 19 Special Legislation/Repeal MBTA Prohibition
  • Article 20 Acceptance of Legislation/G.L.c. 32B sec. 20 OPEB Trust Funds
  • Article 63 Resolution/File and Accept Grants with and from EOEEA for Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant Program
  • Article 64 Resolution/State Extended Producer Responsibility and Bottle Bill Legislation
  • Article 66 Resolution/MBTA Services

Read the memo accompanying these articles >> 

Watch the March 20 meeting on ACMi:

March 7, 2023: Farmers' market joins EATS as path to future


This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published Thursday, March 30, 2023. 

Donate button, 300pxThis reporting demonstrates your donations at work to support democracy here.YourArlington is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.Your contributions are tax-deductible.