The Wanderer - Mobile Edition


Selectmen Approve Several Water Ban Exemptions

Marion Board of Selectmen

By Jean Perry

With the region now under a drought warning, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has issued a mandatory water ban on non-essential outdoor water use, and Marion is included in the region affected. But, as discussed during the Marion Board of Selectmen meeting on September 20, there are always exceptions.

A letter from the DEP last week does state specific circumstances that qualify for exemption from the water ban such as for "the production of food and fiber, the maintenance of livestock, and to meet the core functions of a business."

With a drought warning, all outdoor use is restricted, including vehicle washing, lawn irrigation systems, filling pools, and washing exterior buildings.

The Board of Selectmen, which is also the Water/Sewer Commission, received six separate requests for an exemption from the water ban for permission to utilize outdoor water for watering newly established lawns that were installed before the water ban came into effect.

Town Administrator Paul Dawson said the water superintendent made the recommendation that the selectmen grant the exemption for all six requests and the selectmen approved them.

Dawson said residents with private wells are encouraged to voluntarily observe the water ban to preserve aquifer resources.

"This is a pretty serious drought situation as we all know," said Dawson. In order to preserve water for emergencies and maintain water pressure for fire suppression, Dawson said, it is important "not to draw down the groundwater too much."

Selectman Steve Gonsalves said he supported the exemptions because they were sensible.

"I would certainly be one to allow that within reason," Gonsalves said, "[and] in favor of lightening up a little bit on that." He added that he himself would likely be one to request an exemption because he plans to install a new grass lawn, saying, "I can't go another winter with mud."

Selectmen Chairman Jody Dickerson suggested that since the board only meets every other week, the board should authorize the water superintendent to approve subsequent exemptions within reason in the meantime, and the selectmen voted to allow this for the next 30 days.

"They have a handle on what our [water] levels are ... so I would respect their decisions on that," Selectman Stephen Cushing said. He added that all requests must be in writing.

In other matters, the board declared the old 1999 International E-One pumper (Engine 3) as surplus and voted to accept a bid from Brindlee Fire Apparatus to broker the engine on the town's behalf. The town, which received two identical bids from the only two companies in the country that broker fire engines, chose Brindlee Mountain because of positive business with the broker in the past.

The board also met with Joseph Zora, Jr. and his attorney Margaret Ishihara regarding Zora's dispute with the town over access to his property via Parlowtown Road, which Zora maintains is a public way on land the town acquired decades ago through a title tax taking. Zora's attorney said that there is only limited documented history on the land dispute and argued that a 1961 Town Meeting vote surrounding a Sippican Lands Trust land acquisition transaction to place a gate and boulders blocking passage through Parlowtown Road was not legal.

Town Counsel Jon Whitten, present that night, said the selectmen have no jurisdiction to undo a Town Meeting vote; however, if Zora and his attorney could produce a 1961 Town Meeting Warrant that provided enough detail to prove Zora's position, then Whitten might, if convinced, advise the selectmen to support a subsequent Town Meeting vote to resolve the matter.

The aquaculture farm public hearing for Shea Doonan was again continued until October 18.

The next meeting of the Marion Board of Selectmen is scheduled for October 4 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.

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