Disagreement Over Approval Without Site Visit

In a 3-1 vote with one abstention, the Marion Conservation Commission on November 8 voted to approve the Notice of Intent for Francis Jones to raise an existing house that sits within a velocity zone 209 Wareham Road.

Conservation Commission member Jeffrey Doubrava had visited the site that day, but since the address was not on the commission’s list of site visits for November 4, Doubrava was the only commission member to have seen the property.

Commission member Shaun Walsh was opposed to closing the public hearing and voting on approval, saying, “I think it’s necessary to have a look at the wetlands line … to see if it is accurate.”

“I can’t personally vote to approve a wetlands line that the commission hasn’t had the opportunity to look at,” said Walsh. “That’s just my personal philosophy. I don’t really have any comments on the project itself … I don’t see anything … that gives me a concern.”

That being said, he added, “It’s important for us to make sure that the wetlands line is appropriately delineated.”

Commission member Joel Hartley said he trusted Doubrava’s observation and sympathized with Jones’ desire to start construction before the winter takes hold.

“I don’t see an issue with the plan as it is,” Hartley stated. Most towns have a conservation agent to visit the site ahead of time and report to the commission, Hartley pointed out, but Marion does not.

“All of us (on the commission) don’t always see all of these (site visits) anyway,” added Hartley.

“It seems very clear-cut to me,” said Doubrava before voting to approve.

Walsh reiterated that he was not prepared to approve the NOI; however, he did say, “but that’s okay. We don’t all have to agree.”

The vote to close the public hearing was 3-2, with Walsh and commission member Kristen Saint Don opposed, but the final vote was 3-1, with Walsh opposed and Saint Don abstaining.

Also during the meeting, the commission granted a Negative Determination to the Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA) filed by Nancy and Jeffrey Oakes of 51 Parkway Lane to construct a fence along the side and rear of the property within the buffer zone.

“We looked at it, we looked at the flags,” said Walsh. “The location of the fence looked fine to me. No issues.”

The RDA for Dorothy and Christopher McCarthy to perform vista pruning, eradication of phragmites, and the removal of trees that are a safety hazard to the house at 9 Edgewater Lane was granted a Negative 2 and 3 Determination.

John C. Wheatley’s RDA to perform vista pruning and the eradication of all phragmites on the property at 15 Edgewater Lane was given a Negative 2 and 3 Determination.

Situated between Wheatley and the McCarthys, Millie and Paul Seeberg of 13 Edgewater Lane also received a Negative 2 and 3 Determination for vista pruning and the eradication of all phragmites on the property.

The public hearing for a RDA filed by Jane and Stephen McCarthy of 43 Dexter Road was continued until December 29 to allow for a site visit. The address was omitted from the site visit list on November 4 by error.

In other matters, the commission again took up the discussion on possible wetlands violations at 20 Front Street owned by Ann Severance after speaking with the owner and inspecting the site.

“It was clearly barked, and the area was highly altered,” said Walsh. “The bottom line is, the area has been disturbed. There are a number of conditions in the Order of Conditions that I believe were violated.”

At least six conditions – general and special – were violated, Walsh said.

Walsh will draft an Enforcement Order for the commission to consider at its next meeting, and Severance will be ordered to hire a wetlands specialist to draft a plan for wetlands restoration.

“In my opinion, the Order of Conditions was violated and the wetland area is not functioning as a wetland anymore,” Walsh stated.

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the next meeting of the Marion Conservation Commission will be on November 29 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.

Marion Conservation Commission

By Jean Perry


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