The Marion Planning Board took the opportunity of a light meeting agenda on June 5 to thoroughly discuss its current budget and future needs. The board efficiently addressed bylaw codification and voted to secure funding for assistance with the Town’s Master Plan.
Board member Norman Hills, a member of the Bylaw Codification Sub-committee, notified the board that he would be bringing a series of bylaw revisions to be reviewed by the board over several meetings.
Hills said, “I want to give the board a heads-up that there are eighty bylaws to be reviewed and I’d like to bring ten to each meeting,” adding that there are currently 52 ready to be reviewed.
The sub-committee would like them to be ready for the Fall Special Town Meeting.
Vice Chairman Stephen Kokkins noted that Town Meeting had approved a list of routine corrections, which now must be approved by the state Attorney General’s Office.
Hills said that the bylaws the sub-committee is now addressing are ones that need more discussion, and he cautioned, “Twenty are going to be really tough to talk about.”
Board member Will Saltonstall suggested that the board get the bylaws ahead of time, which Hills agreed to, but he also emphasized the prudence of members only reviewing the 10 that the board would be discussing at the current meeting.
Chairman Eileen Marum concurred, saying, “It’s a worthwhile effort doing it in increments. We will have a better understanding of what’s going on in the codification.”
New Board member Christopher Collings asked if the document the sub-committee was working on could be reviewed in its entirety, to which Hills replied that he would be happy to provide to everyone, but it is a living document and it could become somewhat confusing. The sub-committee is changing the document weekly, and Hills would rather not have comments on drafts that may be irrelevant to the current discussion.
Saltonstall urged that there be public input early in the process so that the bylaws have the best chance of success to be approved at Town Meeting, to which Hills replied that there must be a public hearing on all the bylaws after the Planning Board approves them.
Hills again took the lead on the discussion regarding the state of the board’s FY17 budget. Planning assistant Terry Santos, Chairman Marum, and Hills met earlier with Finance Director Judith Mooney to get an overview of the current budget.
Hills noted that there was roughly $12,000 left in the part-time wages line item of the budget, which is what the board uses to pay for the assistance from SRPEDD for the Master Plan. There is currently approximately $3,100 outstanding to be billed to the board by SRPEDD, which leaves roughly $9,000.
Hills recommended to the board that it encumber that amount to be used for a new contract with SRPEDD. After Town Meeting acceptance on the Master Plan this fall, the Town will need assistance from SRPEDD to implement the Master Plan, including support for new sub-committees that will be created, as well as help in developing the priorities of the Plan.
Hills noted that if the funds were not encumbered, they would be lost at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
Saltonstall, while supporting the vote to secure the funds, underscored the “big task of educating the public before Town Meeting, [making sure] it is not the first time they are seeing this stuff…”
The board voted to approve the contract with SRPEDD using the designated funds as described by Hills.
In other business, the Zoning Board of Appeals requested comments from the board regarding a project at 6 Allen Street in which a Special Permit is being requested for a non-conforming structure. Saltonstall recused himself from the brief discussion. It was noted that the existing structure to be modified is a garage at the rear of the property and is not visible from Allen Street. The structure will be increased greater than 50% in size, making it over 500 square feet, which Hills noted would trigger a Minor Site Plan review by the Planning Board. The board agreed to send this recommendation to the ZBA, with Collings remarking, “We should be as modest as possible in our oversight.”
In other matters, board member Jennifer Francis noted that she and Hills continue to interview town planner candidates, but as Hills put it, “I’m not sure we are where we want to be yet.”
The next Marion Planning Board meeting is scheduled for June 19 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House, not the police station as noted on the meeting agenda.
Marion Planning Board
By Sarah French Storer