UPDATED June 30: The Select Board has unanimously agreed to send a letter to MassHousing regarding “The Residences at Mill Brook,” a proposed 50-unit multifamily development and 1,000 square feet of commercial space at 1021-1025 Mass. Ave., near Brattle Square.
The proposed project by the Maggiore Co. of Woburn would combine two parcels between the Highland Fire Station and Quad Cycles, a bicycle business, and develop a four- to five-story building with at-grade parking and a small retail space on the ground floor, according to the comprehensive-permit application.
“This site approval is not the same thing as the 40B process, which is a lengthy process with different reviews. This is a narrower scope of responsibility, such as whether this site and its design are appropriate and financially feasible," explained Town Counsel Doug Heim.
"The Conservation Commission, the Planning & Community Development department and town engineer all solicited feedback from town staff.”
Additional details regarding the site, building design, utilities, environmental remediation and impacts, and traffic and public safety will be discussed with MassHousing should this project advance to approval of a comprehensive-permit application.
Project called consistent with town goals
Nevertheless, the project is consistent with the goals and recommendations of the Arlington master plan, housing production plan, open-space and recreation plan, and the Mill Brook corridor report, wrote Select Board Chair Len Diggins in a draft of a June letter to Chrystal Kornegay, executive director of MassHousing.
The letter states that the board received concerns that merit further scrutiny by MassHousing and subsequently, the Arlington Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) should project eligibility/site approval be granted.
MassHousing is an independent, quasi-public agency that provides financing for affordable housing in Massachusetts, according to their website.
The letter’s recommendations
Highlights of the letter include:
- “This project would create 13 affordable homeownership units — nearly doubling the town’s current number of affordable homeownership opportunities. Consistent with Arlington’s goals, the proposed project is within walking distance of transit, retail, restaurants, a grocery store, and parks and recreational locations. The variety of transportation options — walking, bicycling and automotive — offered on a main thoroughfare is also consistent with town and Smart Growth goals and criteria.
- “Arlington is eager to create housing for households with extremely low incomes and/or first-time home buyers. The applicant could better meet these goals by deepening the level of affordability for at least half of the 13 affordable units, to provide homeownership opportunities for households and at an allowed sale price affordable to households who make at or below 50 percent of area median income (AMI).
- “Given the loss of trees necessary to build this complex, a commitment to planting and maintaining . . . trees would improve pedestrian safety and reduce heat island effects.”
The Select Board is aware that these matters will be thoroughly scrutinized by the Zoning Board of Appeals and/or Conservation Commission.
Select Board feedback
In discussion Monday, June 13, Diggins said, “This is a great letter, and the town supports this. I fully support sending it.”
Board member Eric Helmuth said, “I’m glad to see the concern about sustainability. Arlington is committed to a net-zero future, and the only way to get there is to be careful with new developments.”
Board member John Hurd said, “I think it’s a good project, and the applicants have been proactive. I have concerns about traffic, but the applicant has been easy to work with. If issues come up, we’ll be able to work with them.”
Asked about the next steps in the process, Kelly Lynema, acting planning director, told YourArlington on June 29:
"Regarding 1021-1027 Mass. Ave., the developer [the Maggiore Companies] has applied for a site-approval application with MassHousing. The next step would be for MassHousing to issue a project eligibility letter (PEL) if it is determined that the project meets their requirements.
"If this letter is granted, then the Maggiore Companies can submit a comprehensive permit application to the Zoning Board of Appeals. This process is commonly referred to as a "40B" project, and per MGL Chapter 40B, such an application is heard by the ZBA, not the ARB.
"For timelines, I would anticipate that we're still a month or so out from MassHousing's determination of whether the project qualifies for a PEL."
Watch the whole June 13 board meeting on ACMi:
This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Monday, June 20, 2022. It was updated June 30, with comment from Lynema.
This reporting demonstrates your donations at work to support democracy here. YourArlington is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.Your contributions are tax-deductible. Donate here >>
FACEBOOK BOX: To see all images, click the PHOTOS link just below