Marion resident Sherman Briggs was successful in getting his Spring Street property re-zoned for a housing development, but on October 4 during the Marion Planning Board, it was clear that Briggs’ confidence in the cooperative effort between him and the board was still shaky.
During this discussion, Briggs was looking to clarify his responsibilities pertaining to the affordable housing aspect of the development – three apartments slated for a lot separate from the other market-rate age-restricted condos and houses.
Briggs’ concern was over the process for filling those affordable units – the application, the lottery system, meeting state specifications, and fulfilling the Town bylaw as well. He needed to settle whether he would be undertaking that process or the Town.
Planning Board member Eileen Marum pointed out that in the Marion bylaw it states that the developer is responsible for developing the marketing plan for the affordable housing units and describing how the application and lottery system would work.
“It’s fine that I have to carry the whole thing,” Briggs said. “I just wanted to make sure that we’re all on the same page as we go forward in this process. I don’t want any confusion – I’ll carry the whole thing for those apartments. … It’s just that, six months from now, I don’t want to be debating who’s supposed to do what.”
According to the bylaw, Briggs’ housing development must produce affordable housing equal to 10 percent of the proposed market-value units. These three units would satisfy that requirement.
There was also the question as to how smoothly the process would go as Briggs builds the market-value units, completes the affordable units, and then applies with the state so the affordable units could be counted and inhabited. Briggs was still seeking answers as to whether he would adhere to the 40-B requirements that gives the Zoning Board of Appeals the permitting authority or adhere to the requirements of the states’ Local Initiative Program (LIP), giving the permitting authority to the Planning Board.
Briggs asked whether the Planning Board would have the authority to issue waivers for the project, such as waivers for setbacks, which Briggs would need in order to make the three units fit onto the lot.
“I can file under the LIP process or … under the 40-B. Then there’s no setback requirements [under 40-B]. I’m trying to find out where we gotta go to get there as soon as possible because I don’t want to come in showing these three units 10 feet off the lot line and then you say it’s got to be 20,” said Briggs.
“The Planning Board can make allowances for what he is asking for,” said Marum, things such as setbacks, roadway design, and stormwater management.
Yet, as the board pondered it further, it was still unclear as to whether the Planning Board could issue the waiver, or if the ZBA would need to issue a variance.
“That’s a point that town counsel can clarify,” said Planning Board member Stephen Kokkins.
To Briggs, it sounds like the LIP process could take a while to complete, and he asked, “How can I get the support of the board knowing that’s going to happen and go forward with the condos? …How can we tie-in those apartments … and continue to go forward with the condos at the same time?”
Briggs stated that he wanted the board to understand that this project was going to happen, but he did not want to include the age-restricted condos in the same process as the affordable housing units, which could slow down Briggs’ progress.
“That’s why I’m putting them on the separate lot,” Briggs said.
Board member Andrew Daniel replied, “It’s part of the same project. I don’t think we can have it both ways.”
Planning Board member Norm Hills suggested the board let town counsel weigh in, while Town Planner Gil Hilario suggested the Planning Board could specify in the Special Permit that, upon completion of the 30 market-value units, the three affordable units would be provided and include it with the LIP application.
That LIP process could take up to two years to process, suggested Chairman Will Saltonstall, and perhaps occupancy permits might not be issued for the market-rate units until the LIP process is completed for those three other units.
“You see, that part can’t happen,” said Briggs. “That’s the part that’s not gonna work.”
Daniel, however, was more optimistic, offering, “This is hypothetical. How do you know it’s gonna get hung up for two years? It might not.”
“It took twelve years to do the 40-B!” replied Briggs. “And I’ve been sitting here for ten.”
Saltonstall said he would reach out to Briggs that week with some answers for him after discussing it with town counsel.
Also during the meeting, the board briefly discussed its draft bylaw for a kennel license, and scheduled a public hearing for October 1 at 7:00 pm. This kennel bylaw will appear on the warrant of the Fall Special Town Meeting scheduled for October 22 at 6:30 pm at Sippican School.
The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board will be September 17 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.
Marion Planning Board
By Jean Perry