Mediation Rejected on Tabor’s ZBA Issues

Town counsel Jon Whitten told the Marion Zoning Board of Appeals, at their meeting on Thursday evening, that in a pre-trial conference, Land Court Judge Piper suggested the Town of Marion and Tabor Academy enter into mediation to settle the ongoing unsettled issues which include Tabor’s request for lights and scoreboards on their new turf fields and Tabor’s objection of the town’s request for a site plan review.

Atty. Whitten said that if the ZBA was interested in mediation that the team would include representatives from the Board of Selectmen, Board of Health and the ZBA. The mediator would, after hearing from all sides, make a binding decision on the issues.

Atty. Whitten said that it was his duty to relay Judge Piper’s suggestion to the ZBA. “This is a suggestion by a judge whose duty it is to try to resolve legal issues,” said Atty. Whitten.

Board members unanimously rejected the idea of mediation. “These are facts and a matter of law… if it’s non-conforming, it’s not happening,” said Chairman Bob Wedge.

The discussion included taking a look at the wording of the Dover Amendment which exempts schools and other non-profits from conforming to local by-laws if the issue is paramount to the educational effort of the institution.

“To say that lights would be dominant to the education of the students… that’s a stretch,” said Chairman Wedge.

The board voted unanimously to uphold the building inspector’s denial of the building permit for the three scoreboards. In discussion, Atty. Whitten noted that there were three issues at hand, which he hoped would be combined into one case, which would include the site plan review issue, lights at the field and the scoreboard issue. The backstops were also discussed, with it noted that they would need to meet a 20-foot setback required by town by-laws.

It was noted that Tabor Academy was recently cited as being in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act for the lack of handicap access to the newly constructed turf fields.

No representatives from Tabor Academy attended the the meeting. The public hearing was attended by several town residents who asked questions and vocally opposed the approval of the special permit to Tabor Academy.

In a second agenda item, the board met with Jay Hiller and Heather Dudko who requested a special permit for a new sign, care of National Sign Corporation/Hiller Chrysler Dodge, at 635 Mill Street. Ms. Dudko, representing National Sign spoke to the board and said that a special permit was requested in early November.

Chairman Wedge said that both the Board of Health and Conservation Commission had no comment on the request and that no letters from the community had been received.

Ms. Dudko said that the request was for one ground sign which would be 34 square feet in total and 18 foot high. It would be an illuminated sign, in an aluminum box with the four brands shown, in different colors. “We are trying to bring the brand into conformity across the country,” said Ms. Dudko.

The four brands include: Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram. Five wall signs will also be installed on the building, replacing the Hiller Dodge sign that has been there for decades. Another sign will note the entrance to the service area. The total square footage of the wall signs is 43 square feet and will not be illuminated. The board approved the request, with the special permit to be recorded on the deed of the landholder.

Town counsel, Jon Witten, spoke and said that an Agreement for Judgment had been worked out regarding Sardinha vs. Marion ZBA with respect to the site plan pertaining to property located at 454 Wareham Street. Mr. Whitten was authorized by the ZBA to settle the case on their behalf. Board members signed the documents.

Without any further business to come before the board, they adjourned at 8:25 pm.

By Joan Hartnett-Barry

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