Solar By-Law Clarification Causes Stir

The board had a lengthy discussion regarding the Zoning Bylaw, Table of Principal Use Regulations-Solar at their meeting on Monday evening.  Building Commissioner Scott Shippee also attended the meeting as well as Marion Energy Committee members Bill Saltonstall, Jennifer Francis and dual board member Norm Hills.

What appeared to be a clarification of the Table of Principal Uses (similar to a Table of Contents) in the Solar By Law opened a heated discussion on possible changes to the wording of the by-law,which which passed at fall town meeting in 2013.

EMC member Bill Saltonstall spoke and said that the EMC came up with the by-law because they knew the town needed one and the planning board was not addressing the issue.  “We knew it needed to be done and so we did it,” said Saltonstall.

Both the planning board and the EMC worked on their proposed by law for over a year before it was presented to the town at town meeting where it passed.

“There is nothing in the by-law that is being changed, we are just clarifying a line in the table (of contents) and we never imagined that it would turn into a discussion of this magnitude,” said EMC member Jennifer Francis.

Some planning board members questioned whether the submission process of the by-law to the planning board and board of selectmen in the first place was procedurally followed.  The by-law was reviewed and approved by town counsel, Jon Whitten, and placed on the town meeting warrant.

At their Special Planning Board meeting held on March 25, the Planning Board voted on an article to be placed on the warrant for spring town meeting to amend Section 4.2 of the zoning bylaw to clarify the Table of Principal Uses to make it easier for residents and other interested parties to find what they are looking for within the many pages of the Solar By-Law.   The Special Planning Board meeting was held because the warrant was closing within a few days.

At that March 25th meeting, member Ted North presented a revised version of the Table of Permitted Uses with a chart outlining which type of solar system was permitted within the various zoning districts in town.

At the March 25th meeting, the board voted to present two Tables of Principal Uses to the public at town meeting including the one published in the meeting notice and the one presented by Ted North.  It was unclear if the two amendments would be combined in one warrant article.

At this past Monday’s meeting, Mr. Saltonstall address the revised Table of Principal Use Regulations-Solar proposed by planning board member Ted North and said that the EMC had multiple comments on his proposal.  Chairman Pat McArdle asked the EMC to send their comments to her for distribution and discussion by members of the planning board at a future meeting.

“Our intent is for the current solar bylaw that we passed stay as is without any confusion being created,” said Saltonstall.

A public hearing on this issue is scheduled for April 22 at 5:30 pm at the Marion Town House.

In other business, the planning board is now receiving applications for the position of Part Time Planner.  Applications are due by April 14.  At that time, a planning board subcommittee will open and review the submissions.

Terri Santos, planning board secretary is working on the web site to make improvements.  Member Norm Hills presented a list of considerations for the site and board members discussed his proposed improvements.

The board decided to make no comments to the Zoning Board of Appeals regarding appeal issues at 54 South Street and 41 Dexter Road.

By Joan Hartnett-Barry


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