Despite the chilly fall air outside, it was hot inside the Marion Town House Annex on Monday night as sparks flew during the Marion Planning Board’s discussion of modifications to the Special Permit for Patrick’s Candy Pantry.
Planning Board Chairman Eileen Marum began the discussion, with the applicant Brian Kelly’s son Patrick and his friend Zak Koplen on speakerphone, by reading a detailed statement enumerating her concerns about the proposed changes to the permit.
The proposal from Kelly is to park a vintage Good Humor ice cream truck at Rooney’s Barber Shop, the current location of the Candy Pantry. The truck is intended as a novelty advertisement for the establishment.
Marum cited her concerns primarily about safety and the existing traffic hazard of the intersection of Spring Street and Route 6 where the shop is located. The Special Permit that was granted July 10 allowed for the sale of candy, and after a written request by Kelly in early August, Marum had granted with a letter the sale of prepackaged ice cream from inside the shop.
At the Planning Board’s August 24 meeting, it was decided that if Kelly wanted to sell ice cream from the truck, he would need to reapply to the entire board. However, the board seemed unsure if the parking of the ice cream truck was within its purview.
Marum expressed her concern about the safety of pedestrians and patrons seated at picnic tables located at the site, saying, “There is no plan to keep pedestrians and cars separate, to keep pedestrians safe … only a thin strip of shrubs to protect picnic tables…” Marum referred to the application of the Buzzards Bay Coalition for their property across Spring Street from the barber shop, saying that a previous board member had great concerns about the safety of the intersection.
At this point in the meeting, board member Chris Collings’ level of frustration with the discussion was evident in his question to Marum. “Can we have that testimony directly?” he asked, adding that Marum “better hurry up” when she demanded to finish her statement.
The discussion was no less heated as Marum finished reading her lengthy and thorough illustration of her safety concerns and stated that she wanted a traffic study by a civil or traffic engineer before allowing any more changes to the Special Permit.
Collings demanded there be a discussion of the matter, which board member Will Saltonstall began by saying to Marum, “This is your opinion; obviously, a strong opinion. I understand the traffic concerns, but I respectfully disagree. I don’t think there’s imminent danger.” Saltonstall added, “If we put up walls between all cars and pedestrians, we’d live in a world of walls!”
Board member Jennifer Francis expressed her concern that the board was overreaching in their role, saying, “[It’s] not really in our purview … as long as they are not selling ice cream.”
Board member Norm Hills suggested resolving the safety concerns by placing bollards or concrete planters between the parking spaces and the picnic tables.
Steve Kokkins, Planning Board vice chairman, expressed his concern that parking the truck at the site was an “end run around the signage practices in town.” He agreed that it was a dangerous intersection, referring to Oxford Creamery in Mattapoisett as a similar scenario.
Andrew Daniel, the newest board member, said he had visited the Oxford Creamery site and believed they had no safety issues there, despite having a hot dog stand in one end of their parking lot. He also had spoken with the building inspector and the ZBA, both of whom had stated the signage on the truck did not violate the signage bylaw.
Marum continued to express not only her safety concerns, but also her displeasure at how Kelly had what she described as “a pattern of behavior.”
“They have not been upfront … I have a trust issue,” Marum said.
Collings expressed his dismay over the entire discussion, asking Marum, “What is the problem here? I will not condone or support a punitive approach … No reason whatsoever not to vote and approve this project. If he chooses to sell ice cream next month, he can ask us.”
Marum repeated that her issue was safety, and Saltonstall suggested that the Town “balance public safety with the older sites that exist in Marion.”
The board concluded its discussion by suggesting that the Special Permit be modified by adding the term “pre-packed ice cream” in addition to candy and removing any mention of an ice cream truck. Planning Board administrator Terri Santos informed the board that they will need to hold a public hearing in order to make the changes, which the board will schedule as soon as possible.
In other business, the board voted to approve both the final draft of the Town Master Plan as well as the Codification amending the Town zoning bylaws, in preparation for the Fall Special Town Meeting. There will be an informational meeting on Saturday, October 14 to answer questions about the Master Plan.
The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is scheduled for October 16 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.
Marion Planning Board
By Sarah French Storer