A zoning bylaw amendment that, according to the Redevelopment Board, was intended to preserve and encourage business use in most of the town’s business districts through a special “mixed-use” permit was defeated Monday by a voice vote on the first night of Town Meeting in .
After more than an hour of debate, the article, Article 7, which was brought forth by the Redevelopment Board, failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority – and quite possibly would have been defeated in a simple-majority vote, as the “no” voters appeared to have the slight edge in the voice vote.
The new “mixed-use” permit, which would have allowed business use on the ground floor and residential use above, was meant as a tool to create growth and help keep Arlington’s business districts just that – business (instead of residential), according to the board.
However, Town Meeting member Chris Loreti, the former Redevelopment Board chairman from Precinct 7, argued that the amendment would actually promote high-density residential, with some business, in the town’s business districts.
Loreti spoke twice on the issue for a total of 15 minutes. He said businesses like on Broadway could have four stories of residential units built on top of them under the amendment. Town Meeting members in favor of the amendment, such as Gordon Jamieson, said that scenarios like this would be highly unlikely, if not impossible, given the town’s review process and parking stipulations.
Town Meeting members addressed six other articles Monday, leaving 65 to go when they reconvene at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 25.
All of the other articles addressed, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10, passed by unanimous, or near-unanimous, votes.
Article 2 was the “State of the Town” by newly-minted Board of Selectmen chairman Kevin Greeley, while Article 3 was simply the receiving of reports from the town’s committees.
Article 4 appointed Elsie Fiore as Measurer of Wood and Bark (she replaces John Fitzmaurice, who is retiring at the end of June), while James O’Connor was elected assistant town moderator under Article 5.
Article 6 was a zoning bylaw amendment that changed the definition of a sign to allow for public art in town. Article 10 was also a zoning bylaw amendment; it allows signs related to historic sites to now be placed in town.
Articles 8 and 9 were tabled until Wednesday.