After months of interesting topics like menthol cigarette bans and marijuana on the agenda, the Marion Board of Health on February 13 returned to more mundane issues with three public hearings for septic system variances.
David Davignon representing 12 North Drive was requesting relief from a second mandatory percolation test in the form of a variance.
Davignon said the property was a “unique property” built in 1750. The property features an L-shaped garage attached to a barn that was also likely built in 1750, according to Davignon.
The property has changed hands several times over the last two decades, and it is likely that the house has remained vacant for the most part for some 15 to 16 years now. The basement has about 3 to 4 feet of water in it, and much of the house is falling into disrepair, said Davignon.
The current owner now wishes to add some living space to that barn, bringing the total bedrooms up from six to eight.
The property needs a new septic system, and a perc test was performed back in 2013 with no issues. A second required perc test was to be performed, but as Davignon pointed out, it has been a wild winter with loads of rain followed by deep freezes and intermittent storms.
“It’s not the ideal time of year for perc tests,” said Davignon.
As the board considered the request, Health Agent Karen Walega advised the board members, “The (soil) material’s not going to change. It’s going to be the same material (as in 2013).”
“The builder’s anxious to plow ahead and he will plow ahead with six bedrooms instead of eight if he has to,” said Davignon. But he won’t have to, because the board approved the septic variance for that size house.
Also during the meeting, the board continued the public hearing for a number of variance requests for 30 Rocky Knook Lane, represented by Brian Grady of G.A.F. Engineering.
Grady brought with him an updated plan reflecting a change from a two-bedroom house to a three-bedroom. Because of the change in the number of rooms on the plan, Walega advised the board that the hearing notice would have to be posted again to reflect the three bedrooms.
Grady agreed to re-advertising the public notice, but asked the board to give him feedback on the updated plan before moving forward.
Some of the variance requests pertain to relief from having to perform a perc test and allowing the soil test lab results to suffice, given that the water table at the property – and all along the street, according to Grady – is too high for a perc test. Grady also requested a variance from some of the setbacks including street setback and wetlands setback. The septic system street setbacks would be 7.5 feet instead of the required 10 feet, and the wetlands setbacks would be 44 feet instead of the required 50 feet.
“I’m trying to push the system as far away from the house as we can and keep it far away from the wetland,” said Grady.
Grady requested another variance for water table separation, asking for 4 feet of separation rather than the required 5 feet.
The system will be designed for a three-bedroom and, according to Marion’s code, requires a 400 gallon-per-day capacity. The proposed system is 348 gallons, which meets the state’s code of 330 gallons per day, but not the Town’s.
“But it doesn’t meet our code and it’s in a sensitive area,” said board member Betsy Dunn.
Grady said the system would have to be moved closer to the wetlands in order to meet Marion’s 400 gallons per day.
Board of Health member Jason Reynolds asked, “If it were designed for the four hundred gallons, how close would it end up to the wetlands?”
“Another four feet closer,” Grady said.
Reynolds said he would be fine with the setback variances, to which Dunn agreed.
“I think I would be okay with the second [variance], but I think I’d be more likely to vote for the wetland variance if it actually was … forty feet from the wetlands and have the four hundred gallon capacity than to be as is.”
Grady said he could make that change.
“I would agree with that,” said Board of Health Chairman John Howard.
The hearing was continued until March 13 to allow for the proper posting of the meeting notice.
The board also approved a variance for 33 Cove Road represented by Doug Schneider of N. Douglas Schneider & Associates, Inc.
The next meeting of the Marion Board of Health is scheduled for February 27 at 4:30 pm at the Marion Town House.
Marion Board of Health
By Jean Perry