Public Survey Summary
76 Canal street
Boston, MA 02114
Prepared for the Town of Arlington
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PUBLIC SURVEY PURPOSE
RKG Associates, in conjunction with our consulting partner Harriman and the Town of Arlington,
developed a public input survey to garner early feedback on zoning concepts for Arlington's
industrial zoning districts. Due to COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, the Town issued the
survey with an introductory video about the project as a way to engage the public in this project and
solicit feedback on the findings of the market analysis and zoning concepts.
The survey was sent out to all Town residents through public information channels and garnered
208 unique responses over the course of several weeks. The input received will be used to help
further refine zoning concepts and recommendations. These recommendations will be reviewed by
the Town's Zoning Bylaw Working Group (ZBWG) and ultimately will be discussed with the
Arlington Redevelopment Board (ARB). Town staff plan to hold a second public information session
for this project, likely via a video platform, unless such a time arises when large gatherings can be
held in a safe manner compliant with all state and local restrictions during the project.
Zoning Question Summary
The first question in the public survey asked participants about the types of uses they would
support in the Town's industrial zoning districts. Of the 208 respondents to this question, most
were comfortable with a variety of commercial and industrial uses including industrial uses,
office, commercial/industrial mixed-use, flexible space, co-working space, and more. Housing
was included on this list as there are examples of housing in the industrial districts now. The
most highly selected choice was breweries, distilleries, or wineries.
Some of the suggested "other" uses included larger shopping plazas, research labs, artist
studios and cultural spaces, and public performance spaces.
Question 1 Responses, N=208 .
Question 2 asked participants whether they would support a waiver of the 39-foot height
maximum for industrial parcels abutting residential districts in return for higher standards for
site design, parking, or environmental protection. While 74% of respondents agreed with the
waiver in return for higher standards and some of the comments supported a general increase
in height, other comments brought up questions to consider. A sample of those comments
• Concern for how much parking would be needed to accommodate a taller building;
• Concern for residents who live adjacent to an industrial district if the height restriction is
• Desire to focus on the pedestrian space along streets and buildings with sidewalks and
trees to lessen impact of building heights; and
• Review of each development is necessary to gauge the impact and the benefits to
determine if a waiver should be granted.
Would you support a waiver of the current 39-foot height
maximum to allow heights up to 52 feet if the Applicant had to
meet other site design, parking, or environmental standards?
Yes No Additional Comments
Question 2 Responses, N=207
Question 3 asked participants if they would support a small reduction in vehicle parking as an
incentive to require more bicycle parking given proximity to the Minuteman Bikeway. While
68% of respondents agreed with this concept, the 40 comments we received reflected a mix of
opinions. Several people noted they would like to see parking for industrial reduced even if
bike parking was not increased, others noted they would like to see other forms of
transportation improved such as transit and walking, and several respondents noted parking
should not be reduced at all. One commenter noted the need to understand where workers in
the industrial district are commuting from and whether there are other means of transportation
available to them.
Question 4 asked participants if they would support a variation in the front setback of a
building to be not less than 6 feet from the right of way and no further back than 10 feet. This
variable setback would create an envelope where a building is close enough to the sidewalk to
engage the pedestrian but not so close that landscaping, signage, or other public realm
treatments would be prevented. Like Question 3, 68% of respondents answered in the
affirmative but the 46 written comments provided more nuance to those responses. A sample of
those comments included:
• It is undesirable to have buildings too close to the road and sidewalk. Ten feet should be
• Do not crowd the street and sidewalk with large buildings;
• Agree that parking should not be in the front of a building, but there needs to be ample
space for landscaping and trees;
• Support for active pedestrian environment, but industrial areas may not be the best
place for that;
• In the age of COVID, we do not need narrower sidewalks, we need more space;
• If pedestrian amenities and landscaping were included, there would be support for
reduced setbacks; and
• Several respondents noted the example of new buildings on Mass Ave being too close to
the street and crowding out the pedestrian.
Would you support a variable front setback of no less than 6 feet and no more
than 10 feet to bring buildings closer to the sidewalk and create a more active
Yes No Additional Comments
Question 4 Responses. N=207
Question 5 asked participants if they would support zoning changes that would require new
buildings to have more windows and a greater level of visual transparency, as well as more
pedestrian amenities such as lighting, art, or seating. This question garnered a very positive
response with 82% answering in the affirmative. Interestingly, the written comments that
accompanied this question noted the need to offer an incentive instead of a regulation. The
concern expressed was that industrial uses would not be able to thrive if development
requirements were too stringent. Respondents offered ideas such as a density bonus in return
for amenities or better building design with more windows. There were also comments about
this being an industrial district where windows and pedestrian amenities might not be as
important as in other parts of Arlington; yet any new building should be well-designed
Lastly, Question 6 was open ended and allowed participants to leave additional comments for
the Town to consider. Respondents left a total of 78 additional comments which have been
grouped and summarized at a high level in the bullet points below (in no particular order):
• Green space, trees, pedestrian amenities, and strong connections to the bike path
should all be strongly considered alongside new development;
• Green buildings and energy efficiency should be a consideration as well;
• Improved aesthetics and building design, such as quality materials and
underground parking, would be welcome;
• Need more parking and loading, not less;
• More public access to Mill Brook if possible;
• Housing does not belong in the industrial districts;
• Need stormwater management strategies and planning for climate change;
• Noise and pollution regulation for any manufacturing uses; and
• Support for more sidewalks and building setbacks.
Demographic Question Summary
Several questions were asked in addition to the zoning questions to better understand the
demographic and geographic composition of survey respondents.
What neighborhood do you live in?
Arlington Little Scotland Poet's Comer Robbins Farm Turkey Hill/ Morningside Arlington Center Jason Heights East Arlington Kelwyn Manor Not Applicable
Heights Mount Gilboa
Question 8 Responses, N=207
20 % -
15 % -
10 % -
Please select your age group
Question 10 Responses, N=199
Question 11 Responses, N=188