Board Reaching Out for Residents’ Input

Whether you are concerned about zoning bylaws, preserving the character of the town, open space, or natural and historical resources, the Marion Planning Board Master Plan Subcommittee needs your input on what to prioritize for the next ten years. It wants to know how you envision the Town of Marion so it can develop a 2015 Master Plan to bring Marion forward into the future.

Two subcommittee members and one Planning Board member tossed around some ideas for reaching out to the townspeople for their participation in the Master Plan development during a midday November 20 meeting.

Post cards, surveys mailed with tax bills, and media advertising – the subcommittee will look toward anything to grab the public’s attention and interest them in attending Master Plan workshops with the Planning Board and engage them in conversation about their town.

“This is the only way you’re going to get people to buy into your master plan … To get everybody’s input,” said Planning Board member Eileen Marum to fellow board members Rico Ferrari and Norman Hills during a discussion that focused on organizing workshops to engage the public in the Master Plan conversation.

One idea was to divide the town into several sections and invite them to attend Master Plan meetings to address the concerns of each part of town.

“The more input we get, the better it is,” said Ferrari. “If nobody shows up…” Well, at least they had the experience of trying, added Ferrari.

One of the functions of the subcommittee is to attempt to draft a bylaw to place restrictions on formula businesses – business establishments under common control or franchises – to preserve the character of the town.

There is already one citizen petition spearheaded by former Planning Board member, and Master Plan Subcommittee member not in attendance that day, Ted North. Planning Board members determined on November 17 that the bylaw proposed in the citizen petition was not going address all the issues a robust bylaw would require.

The Planning Board could consider refraining from recommending the bylaw, or others submitted as citizen petitions, and instead devise its own to place as an article at the Annual Town Meeting in May. Hills commented that the board could take North’s, as well as a tentative citizen petition Marum herself considered submitting, and use the best ideas from each to craft one bylaw.

“I’d like to think that’s what would actually happen,” said Hills. “But once it becomes a [citizen] petition, it’s got to move forward to Town Meeting floor.”

The discussion also covered several Planning Board items that would appear on the Town Meeting Warrant in May, including a request for funding of the Master Plan and the hiring of a part-time town planner as a consultant on the project. In addition to a formula business zoning bylaw, the board would like to address “abandonment and blight” of businesses in the form of another bylaw.

By Jean Perry


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