UPDATED, Dec. 22: When a Special Town Meeting takes place in February, the main order of business will be reviewing how the town's zoning bylaws were recodified, a yearlong an effort that has not occurred since 1975.

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Six other articles will face meeting members. The draft warrant was available by Tuesday, Dec. 12, and YourArlington took a look. On Dec. 21, the town website posted the draft warrant >>

For any zoning issue, meeting members need sharp eyes for details and long memories. That is all the more true for a revamp of the entire bylaw.

The article itself states the aim of such an enterprise: to amend the zoning bylaw so it is "easier for users to navigate, simplify and update its language, and provide a better structure for predictability and flexibility in both the interests of current use and future adaptability ...."

That's form -- that is, how the document is presented.

Aiming not to change content

But what about content? What the article does not say -- and what suspicious mind would like to head off -- are changes to the bylaw themselves.

All involved say they are taking pains to avoid altering content. That includes the Jenny Raitt, the town planning director; members of the Redevelopment Board, RKG Associates, town consultants on the project; and members of the Zoning Recodification Working Group

Officials have expressed that hope at two public hearings -- July 13 and Oct. 18 -- as well as at the Dec. 4 Redevelopment Board meeting.

For the complete wording of all articles in the draft warrant, scroll to the bottom. For related documents, click here >>

Explaining Articles 3 through 7

Following Article 1, standard at all town meetings, articles 3 through 7 all are on the warrant at the request of Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine. He explained each briefly on Dec. 12.

Article 3 (demolition activities), he wrote, "is actually a piece of cleanup from last spring's work related to the Residential Study Group.  Town Meeting voted to change the allowable hours of work, and an unintended consequence was a change to the hours of work allowed for the town and its contractors. That consequence is problematic for roadway and water/sewer work, and we'd like to fix that at the Special Town Meeting."

Articles 4 and 5 (parking) "are both related to the follow-up work we committed to undertaking when Town Meeting voted favorably to allow for the establishment of parking benefit districts.

"We plan to propose a bylaw that would govern the process by which parking benefit district expenditures are reviewed and approved, and then also request endorsement of the first round of expenditures from the parking benefit district fund.

"There's a lot of excitement among Arlington Center stakeholders to start putting these resources back into the Center."

Article 6 (Hardy funding) is self-explanatory, but the manager added some news: "We'll have bids in hand before the Special Town Meeting, so we will have an exact number to propose."

Asked whether Article 7 involves the renovation of the Town Yard, which affects the settlement that led to the rebuilding of Pierce Field, among other parts of next-door Arlington High School, Chapdelaine responded: "You are correct; it has to do with the closeout of the settlement due to the contamination." The settlement, in 2001, ended court action brought by the town after contaminated ground was discovered in 1995 at the practice soccer field behind Stop & Shop.

DRAFT WARRANT: Feb. 12, 2018, Special Town Meeting

ARTICLE 1 -- REPORTS OF BOARDS AND COMMITTEES: To receive, hear, and act upon the reports of boards, committees, and commissions; or take any action related thereto. (Inserted at the request of the Town Moderator)

ARTICLE 2 -- ZONING BYLAW AMENDMENT/RECODIFICATION: To see if the Town will vote to recodify, and therefore amend the Zoning Bylaw to make the Bylaw easier for users to navigate, simplify and update its language, and provide a better structure for predictability and flexibility in both the interests of current use and future adaptability, by:

1. re-organizing, re-positioning, re-captioning and re-numbering portions of the Zoning Bylaw to enhance accessibility and adaptability;

2. updating and clarifying the purpose and authority of the Zoning Bylaw to clearly state the Town's legal and factual premises for zoning regulations;

3. improving definitions to more clearly describe zoning districts, uses, and requirements;

4. providing greater consistency with present State law;

5. eliminating redundant or unnecessary provisions; making amendments such as correcting spelling and typographical errors, and eliminating or updating outdated statutory references;

6. revising, re-organizing and clarifying Zoning Bylaw administrative provisions; and

7. making other amendments for clarification and consistency; and by taking the following actions:

1. Deleting in their entirety the following provisions and all their subparts of the existing Zoning Bylaw:

Article 1: Title, Authority, and Purpose; Article 2: Definitions;

Article 3: Establishment of Districts;

Article 4: Interpretation and Application; Article 5: Use Regulation;

Article 6: Dimensional and Density Regulations; Article 7: Signs;

Article 8: Off-Street Parking and Loading Regulations; Article 9: Nonconforming Uses, Structures, and Lots; Article 10: Administration and Enforcement;

Article 11: Special Regulations;

Article 12: Amendment, Validity, and Effective Date; and

2. Substituting the following provisions and their subparts in the document entitled "Proposed Amended Zoning Bylaw, dated December X, 2017" on file in the office of the Town Clerk and the Department of Planning and Community Development:

Section 1, Section 2, Section 3, Section 4, Section 5, Section 6, Section 7, Section 8

Purpose and Authority; Definitions;

Administration and Enforcement;

Establishment of Districts; District Regulations;

Site Development Standards;

Special Permits; Special Regulations;

3. And by taking any action related thereto.

Changes are set forth in the proposed recodified and amended Town of Arlington Zoning Bylaw dated December 14, 2017, (with commentary and supplementary materials available for informational purposes) on file in the Office of the Town Clerk, and the Department of Planning and Community Development, located at 730 Massachusetts Avenue, and at the Robbins Library Reference Desk, 700 Massachusetts A venue; and on the Town's website at www.arlingtonma.gov/ARB ; or take any action related thereto. (Inserted at the request of the Arlington Redevelopment Board)

ARTICLE 3 -- BYLAW AMENDMENT/RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION, OPEN EXCAVATION, AND DEMOLITION ACTIVITY REGULATIONS: NEIGHBOR NOTIFICATIONS AND MEETINGS: To see if the Town will vote to amend the Town Bylaw Title V, Article 12- Regulations Upon the Use of Private Property: Noise Abatement, to explicitly exempt Department of Public Works and public utilities work and activity on public and private ways from the provisions of Title V, Article 12, Section3.A; or take any action related thereto. (Inserted at the request of the Town Manager)

ARTICLE 4 -- BYLAW AMENDMENT/PARKING BENEFITS: DISTRICT EXPENDITURES: To see if the Town will vote to amend the Town Bylaws to establish processes by which parking benefits district expenditures shall be reviewed and endorsed by the Finance Committee, Capital Planning Committee, and Town Meeting; or take any action related thereto. (Inserted at the request of the Town Manager)

ARTICLE 5 -- ENDORSEMENT/PARKING BENEFITS DISTRICTS OPERATING AND CAPITAL COSTS: To see if the Town will endorse proposed expenditures relative to established parking benefits districts; or take any action related thereto. (Inserted at the request of the Town Manager)

ARTICLE 6 -- APPROPRIATION/CAPITAL BUDGET/HARDY SCHOOL RENOVATION OR CAPACITY EXPANSION: To see if the Town will vote to appropriate a sum of money for renovation and/or capacity expansion, temporary or permanent, at the Hardy School building, determine how the money shall be raised and expended, including the possibility of borrowing all or some of the same; or take any action related thereto. (Inserted at the request of the Town Manager)

ARTICLE 7 -- GRANT OF USE RESTRICTION AND ACCESS EASEMENT/51 GROVE ST.: To see if the Town will vote to grant permanent use restrictions and access easements or other interests in certain land at and surrounding 51 Grove Street (the Arlington DPW Yard) and appropriate appurtenant areas, pursuant to the May 2, 2001, Settlement Agreement between the Town of Arlington and Honeywell International Inc., Boston Gas Co. d/b/a KeySpan Energy Delivery and the Massachusetts Electric Co. relating to environmental conditions at a site including; or take any action related thereto. (Inserted at the request of the Town Manager)


Key links to documents, Zoning Recodification Working Group
 Nov. 28, 2017, opinion: What's the rush to recodify town bylaws?
July-October 2017: Documents online as zoning-code forum held
Aug. 9, 2017: Let's fix our zoning recodification process

This news summary was published Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, and updated Dec. 22, to add link.