Proposed condos, business, 1021-25 Mass. Ave., 2022Proposed condos and retail space at 1021-1025 Mass. Ave. / Harrison Mulhern Architects

The Zoning Board of Appeals, continuing to consider a comprehensive permit for the proposed development at 1021-1025 Mass. Ave., heard updates Jan. 12 about wetlands and stormwater, followed by a mix of views from residents.

Zoning Board of Appeals logo

Supporters and opponents addressed environmental issues. So did the developers' representatives dcuring a meeting on Zoom for two hours and 10 minutes attended by as many 40 people.

Christian Klein, ZBA chair, said that because this is a40B development, the process is expedited, and the board has the power to grant waivers for local statutes. The proposed development is a five-story, 50-unit residential building with 13 affordable units and with retail space on the bottom floor.  

Wetland, stormwater issues

Maggiore Companiesattorney Paul Feldman explained what is to be covered at the hearing -- wetland issues, then stormwater management.

Rich Kirby, ofLEC Environmental Consultants, reviewed the wetlands concerns. 

The property borders Mill Brook, though most is from 100 to 200 feet away. Part of the planned walking trail is to be within 100 feet of the brook, with mitigation planned to protect the brook, consultants say.

Additionally, a number of trees are to be removed -- but Kirby saidthat a majority are invasive species, such as the Norway maple. In their place, consultants plan a native wooded landscape with a variety of trees and shrubs of varying ages, aiming not to look artificial. An invasive-species management plan is to be provided to the condo association. Readthe consultants' environmental-impact analysis >> 

Condo group OKs gardening

Matthew Maggiore, company president, added that the Mill Brook condo association approved the gardening plan along the brook. He said the company is moving in a “positive direction” regarding access for the condo association pending insurance agreements.

As to the brook, Susan Chapnick, Conservation Commission chair, noted that part of the site is within 100 feet from the waterway, which is protected as a “wetland resource area,” and she is glad that that area is only for mitigation purposes. She is also pleased that the site developers are working with the condo association.

Chapnick sought more specific data about how many trees are to be removed. She said she hoped that the woodland could be available for all community members, but Feldman said that this was not possible because of liability and insurance issues.  

Value urged for Norway maples

Steve Moore, a representative for the Arlington Tree Committee, pointed out that while Norway maples are invasive and not preferable, they do provide tree coverage and therefore should be valued. 

“It’s not the best forest, and it’s definitely not in the best shape, but it is what we have, and we need to very carefully look at the mitigation,” Moore said. 

Sean Reardon, an engineering consultant fromTetra Tech, summarized its findings. He said that improving the mitigation surrounding Mill Brook will benefit the development and the nearby parking lot. As to stormwater management, Reardon expressed concern about how tight the property is for construction and said that managing erosion and runoff during construction will be “hugely important.”

Additionally, there seems to be limited space and access for emergency vehicles, which is an issue for the development. Inthe letter submitted, the company also inquired about the locations of parking columns in the garage and accessible parking spots.  

Protection for resource areas noted

“Let’s not lose site of the fact that we’ve got to build a big project, and one of the biggest parts of the Wetlands Protection Act and the local stormwater bylaw is to make sure that you’re protecting the resource areas during construction, and I think there’s got to be a little bit more thought put into that plan,” Reardon said.  

Maggiore assured Reardon that more details about the construction plan will come.

“Although we talk about the site as being tight, and we appreciate that, the ability to construct these types of projects in the subject property is something that we’re quite confident that we are going to be able to put together a construction plan that makes sense to everyone, and to tetra tech,” Maggiore said.  

Discussion continued concerning managing stormwater runoff.

Mike Novak, a civil engineer for Maggiore, showed the proposed plan for stormwater management and how the water will go to an underwater filtration system designed to capture water for the entire plot. The proposed development will not increase runoff from the existing conditions, he said. The site is graded for runoff, Novak said, and during construction there will be a plan in place to install the filtration system. 

Residents offer comments against and for

Patricia Worden, longtime town resident and outspoken critic of the development, submittedtestimony detailing various issueswith the development and what she called the “procedurally unacceptable process.” She alleged that the Arlington Historical Commission was not notified that a listed historical property was potentially going to be destroyed. Worden also criticized the plan to cut down the Norway maples. In the meeting, she said that cutting down trees will cause climate damage and a heat island -- public-health issues.

“The humanitarian crisis and climate change will demand that we should take much more care of our trees,” Worden said.

Charles Barry of 51 Jason St. kept his comments short in an email listed in the agenda: “Please REJECT the proposed 40B project at 1021-1025 Mass. Ave.” 

Claire Odom of Precinct 7 also expressed her disapproval on the grounds that the units would not be truly affordable to everyone and that the project is contrary to Arlington’s ongoing sustainability goals.  

Steven Blagden emailed, suggesting that the existing homes in the location at issue instead be converted to affordable apartment units instead of building a new development.  

On the other hand, Xavid Pretzer, a Precinct 17 neighbor of the project, voiced approval, both virtually during the meeting and previously by email. He appreciates the affordable units and accessibility yet is skeptical of the need for uplighting -- and hopes that flooding is properly planned for.  

“As a local resident, I’ve seen firsthand how Mill Brook does currently flood and how it threatens local businesses, so I do think anything that can be done to not just maintain but [also] improve the stormwater management on this property will be very valuable to the town and local residents,” Pretzer wrote.

Anson Stewart also voiced his support. 

Susan Stamps, of 39 Bradford St., a Tree Committee member who offered her own views, said that she was hesitant about the trees being removed and also hopes that as many surfaces are permeable as possible to facilitate stormwater runoff.

Annie LaCourt of Chatham Street also supports the development and urges the board to consider how the neighborhood will change in the future. She also spoke about how Norway maples create a “desert” underneath by sucking up all the water, and so she is glad that new, native plants will be installed in their places.

“This is an opportunity to replace invasive species and a badly working environment with the kind of plantings that are badly needed in these kinds of locations,” LaCourt said.

Other actions

Earlier, the board approved the written decision for 201 Spring St., which was initially brought up at the meeting on Dec. 20, 2022. The document, written by board Klein and member Patrick Hanlon, was approved unanimously. The board approved the application that was filed on Nov. 2, 2022, from Pegasus Design LLC for a variance in accordance with Section 5.4.2 (dimensional and density requirements) of the Zoning Bylaw. The approval means that a kitchen can now be added to the back left side of the property that will add 120 square feet to the house.

The board unanimously approved minutes of the Dec. 19 and 20 meetings.

The next ZBA meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 26, aiming to cover traffic and comments regarding constructability and emergency access for 1021-1025 Mass. Ave.

See all planned hearing dates here >> 

Read all correspondence for the Jan. 12 hearing >> 
Dec. 20, 2022: ZBA continues review of plan near Brattle Square 

This news summary by YourArlington intern Renée Abbottwas published Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023.