To the Editor;
At the end of 2013, the Town of Marion, the Baywatch Developer, the Sippican Lands Trust and a Group of Concerned Citizens and Abutters all came together and finalized the restructured 40B development off Front Street behind the Wave. A significant reduction in size and numerous other benefits to Marion occurred as a result of the Group of Concerned Citizens opposing the scale of the 168 unit “Marion Estates” development that had previously been reluctantly approved by Marion’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The ZBA had been forced to settle with Baywatch after a decade of litigation in which the State had effectively sided with Baywatch. Then, when the development came before Marion’s Conservation Commission, the Group of Concerned Citizens had the legal standing to vigorously oppose it. They were able to negotiate a restructured 96-unit configuration that compares with the previously approved 168-unit development as follows:
Previously Approved As Restructured
Total Number of Units 168 96
Number of Rental Units 168 60
Number of For Sale Homes 0 36
Number of Affordable Units 42(25%) 60 (63%)
Completion of the Bike Path No Yes
Conservation Land None 12 of the 34 acres (35%)
Filling of Wetlands Yes No
3rd lane required on Front St Yes No
An advantage of reducing the scale of the project to 96 units is that a greater portion of it can be absorbed by Marion residents and their families (who will get preference). And even though the restructured project will be much smaller in scale, it will contain more units that are actually affordable (60 versus 42), and it will now offer 36 much-needed smaller single family homes for purchase. Also, by reducing the number of cars, the development’s entrance will no longer require a “3rd lane” for turning off of Front Street, so the arrival experience coming down from Route I-95 into Marion will be less urban looking and less congested. A pathway was also donated by abutters Baldwin Bros and Sherman Briggs that provides the missing link to complete the bike path which enables Marion to apply for approximately $1.5 million of Federal bike path funding. Finally, the developer has set aside 12 of its total of 34 acres as conservation land which will be held by the Sippican Lands Trust and on which there will be a Conservation Restriction held by the Town. The net result is a lower impact development, completion of the Bike Path, and significant conservation benefits that all combine to create a better outcome for Marion.
Once the restructured development was agreed upon by the Group of Concerned Citizens and Abutters, the Sippican Lands Trust, and Baywatch, it went back to the Marion Selectmen and the ZBA, who then all worked with the developer to close the agreed upon transaction in December. The undersigned want to take this opportunity to thank the Marion Selectmen, ZBA and Conservation Commission as well as the principals of Baywatch for working out this public/private partnership solution to meet the needs of the Town while also satisfying the State’s affordable housing requirements. It could not have come to this result without the hard work and constructiveness of all involved. As Marion residents now watch the development unfold, we thought it would be useful for them to have this background, and to hopefully feel good about the outcome.
David Croll, Group of Concerned Citizens
Chris Bryant, Sippican Lands Trust
Michael Baldwin, David Barrett and Sherman Briggs, Abutters
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