With Marion set to host the town’s first body art and tattoo establishment, the Marion Board of Health on April 6 set its sights on May to hold a public hearing to adopt a set of body art establishment regulations.
Marion’s regulations will be based primarily on the state’s own set of model regulations for local boards of health to use as a starting point in drafting regulations allowing for the authority to issue body art permits and conduct regular inspections.
Board of Health Chairman Dr. Edward Hoffer said he had town counsel review the draft regulations and reported no apparent issues with the language that lays out the specifics concerning sanitation and sterilization measures and procedures, establishment recordkeeping, standards of practice, injury and complaint protocols, and permitting.
Health Agent Anna Wimmer said the only addition she wishes to make would be to add “microblading” to the definitions section of the regulations to include as a form of body art.
Microblading is a technique used predominantly for eyebrows involving several tiny needles that use fine strokes to apply semi-permanent ink into the skin.
The board expects it will review a final draft at its next meeting and schedule a public hearing for May.
On the COVID-19 front, Marion has seen an uptick in positive cases over the past several weeks, bringing the town’s total up to 401. As of press time, there were eight active cases.
Sippican School has seven in quarantine awaiting test results with one positive case in isolation for a total of 36 confirmed cases since the onset of the pandemic last year.
Tabor Academy, just back from a two-week spring break, reported “a few positive cases,” Health Nurse Lori Desmarais said, unrelated to any on-campus transmission and with no exposure reported on the school’s campus. Regular testing at Tabor Academy is ongoing.
Sippican Healthcare Center has gone 56 days since its last confirmed positive case. All staff and residents have received both COVID-19 vaccine doses and are considered fully vaccinated.
Marion will be distributing its final second doses to its elderly population that received the vaccine through the town before the state switched its strategy to focus on mass vaccination sites.
A clinic was scheduled for April 7, and one final clinic is upcoming for next week for those last second doses.
The board held a public hearing for a septic system variance requested by Eileen and J. Thomas Bowler, 17 Moorings Road. BOH members agreed to continue the hearing after concluding that they would not favor a variance from the town’s new regulation requiring new constructions to install state-of-the-art nitrogen-reducing septic systems while the couple awaits permission to connect to the municipal sewer service.
Engineer David Davignon explained that the variance would allow the Bowlers to keep the existing 1,500-gallon septic tank system in place while demolishing the existing five-bedroom single-family house and rebuilding a new one with the same number of bedrooms. However, Marion regulations require a 2,000-gallon septic system for a house that size, and one that is more environmentally friendly, known as an “innovative/alternative” (I/A) septic system.
According to Davignon, the existing septic system passed a Title V inspection, but the homeowners’ long-term plan is to tie into the sewer system, forgoing the septic system altogether. He said an abutter is also involved in the project, which includes installing a grinder pump and a 2-inch forced main down a shared driveway to Converse Road, where they hope to connect.
Davignon said the couple had filed a sewer connection permit with the Water & Sewer Commission, which consists of the Board of Selectmen, and the plan is awaiting approval. Still, although the Bowlers intend on connecting to sewer, Davignon said, just in case, he wanted the availability of the existing septic system.
BOH member Dot Brown said she had many questions, given that she had recently spoken with Department of Public Works Superintendent David Willett, who allegedly told her that he does not foresee the Bowlers receiving approval for the sewer tie-in. According to Brown, Willett said the Bowlers would not be able to use a 2-inch pipe to connect to Converse Road. Instead, they would have to run the pipe down Conserve Road to Cove Street and tie in there, making the project more costly.
Brown said she also serves on a citizens’ advisory group undertaking a comprehensive wastewater management plan and that the Converse Road area does not place high on the priority list at this time. Furthermore, that wastewater management plan has been delayed by about a year due to the pandemic, so the group is nowhere near the point of determining when the area would be considered for sewer upgrades.
Brown said she was not inclined to approve a variance from the board’s new septic regulations, especially without an I/A septic system plan in place should the sewer tie-in plan fail.
Davignon argued that the existing septic system, if granted the variance, would not ever be used throughout the demolition and construction, and so no increase in flow was imminent. He said it “troubles” him that the board would require the Bowlers to replace the passing septic system with an expensive I/A system when all they want is to connect to sewer eventually.
However, Brown would not concur. “If you can spend that much money on the house, then you can protect the water a little bit,” said Brown.
Hoffer agreed with Brown that the new regulations require all new construction to install the I/A design, regardless of whether the existing septic system passes or fails a Title V inspection.
Davignon expressed frustration with the details about the 2-inch pipe not being able to hook up to Converse Road, of which he said he was unaware. Brown said the Board of Health could not solve the sewer problem for the Bowlers, but nor could it grant a variance for a septic system outside the new regulations and for an undetermined amount of time. However, without the BOH signing-off on the system, the Bowlers would not receive the building permits they need to demo and rebuild the house.
Davignon asked if the BOH would approve the variance, but with the caveat, should the Bowlers be denied a sewer connection, then they would install an I/A septic system.
Brown was still not comfortable with that, and neither were the other board members. Without a plan submitted for an I/A septic system, the board was not prepared to move forward.
J. Thomas Bowler spoke via Zoom and assured the board that the older septic system would never be used regardless of the sewer outcome, and also said he hadn’t heard anything mentioned about the 2-inch pipe not being able to connect to Converse Road. He wanted to know more about that, but the board did not have the information.
Bowler’s frustration was evident in the steady raising of his voice as he questioned the board about the information it was relying upon that evening. He questioned the “conflating a master septic/sewer plan for Marion with one homeowner’s request,” and Brown said that perception was “exactly why we’re in this position now.”
Every homeowner over the last 50 years has asked the same question, she said.
Bowler took “huge exception” to what he said was Brown’s assumption that he was “trying to get out of” installing the I/A septic system. He defended himself by saying that he and his wife care about the environment and water quality and never intended to circumvent regulations. He continued speaking in a loud tone for some time until Hoffer turned to Davignon and asked if he would like a continuation of the public hearing to allow for time to obtain written permission for the sewer tie-in or, in the absence of that, to put together a plan for an I/A system as a backup plan.
Davignon accepted, and the hearing was continued until 4:10 pm on April 20.
The next meeting of the Marion Board of Health will be on April 20 at 4:00 pm.
Marion Board of Health
By Jean Perry