Eyesore No More

            Monday night’s public meeting of the Marion Planning Board yielded little in the way of adjudication or voting decisions, but a significant piece of information emerged out of a general discussion regarding the town’s Master Plan.

            Noting an item regarding the power of the Planning Board to control derelict commercial properties, member Andrew Daniel referenced the old Christie’s, “the eyesore of Route 6 in Marion.” Board Chairman Norm Hills confirmed that Marion resident Mike Sudofsky has bought the property, “and he’s coming up with a concept on what to do with it.”

            Few private properties in town have been as widely discussed in municipal government meetings as the former convenient mart inside the little triangle between Route 6, Spring Street and Wells Road.

            Daniel suggested that the town could make a decision with Wells Road (i.e. to do away with it.) Hills agreed, “It could be a lot safer.” Board member Eileen Marum said that some drivers use the road to access Sippican Health Care Center. Without Wells Road, it was agreed that the healthcare center is still accessible via Mill Street, the small stem of a road that begins at Spring Street and winds out to Route 6 near the Cushing Community Center.

            The discussion about the former Christie’s was one of many items on a list of Master Plan goals established in 2017. Board member Alanna Nelson read from the action items list, identifying matters that fall at least partially under the Planning Board’s purview. Nelson said that the entire planning document is accessible on the town’s website (marionma.gov.)

            In the revisiting the list now, the purpose is to identify and pick up on some tasks for the next year.

            Hills said that a study with the Affordable Housing Trust will inform the board regarding the Lockheed Martin property and that the Codification group is working on a billet-style bylaw to address some of the other properties on the town’s radar.

            Planning Board member Chris Collings asked how the Heron Cove project planned for Route 6 near the Wareham town line affects Marion’s obligations to consider future 40B affordable-housing applications.

            “It’s going to help us as far as the 40B (requirement) goes … it’s working its way through the (Zoning Board of Appeals) as we speak,” said Hills, noting that Ken Steen’s project will put Marion over the 10-percent, state-required, affordable-housing threshold.

            Given other housing projects such as the market-rate townhouse development that Matt Zuker is expected to propose near Heron Cove, Hills told Collings that at some point, the town will once again need to calculate and project necessary senior housing into its Master Plan. “That’s what the Codification Committee is looking at,” he said.

            The board reviewed the status of various tools that could spur business growth in Marion. The idea of a local guide to facilitate business took “a number of half-steps,” according to Hills, but “nothing has ever come of it.”

            Marum clarified that the bus running along Route 6 is operated by the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority (GATRA) and runs from New Bedford to Wareham. “They’ll stop if you wave and flag them (anywhere on Route 6,)” said Nelson.

            The board suspects that the state’s Community Compact Cabinet will cease to exist when Governor Charlie Baker leaves office in January.

            Daniel said that the town received a $20,000 state grant for an ADA study, and the application period is now open to apply for grant funding to pursue particular ADA-related projects. The application is due in October. Nelson confirmed she is on the committee that has been dormant. Hills told the board he will discuss the matter with Town Administrator Jay McGrail.

            Continuing on her checklist related to the Master Plan, Nelson read an item to partner with Tabor Academy in an effort to monitor flooding. Marion has established a Hazard Mitigation Plan, and the Energy Management Committee has frequently discussed climate change.

            Open space and habitat, commonly discussed by the Open Space Acquisition Commission, falls to the Stewards of Open Space (of which Hills is a member.) He said the town has been trying to get the open-space plan completed.

            Sippican Historical Society’s updated website drew rave reviews from board members for its information.

            Finally, the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission had discussed a joint meeting to update protection areas, but that task has not been done in years.

            Pecking away at Master Plan items is daunting, but the board is intent on addressing each item mentioned.

            “That’s how you eat an elephant, one bite at a time,” said Hills. “If anything from this discussion jumps out at anyone, feel free to pick it up and discuss at future meetings.”

            The continued public hearing on changes to the Rules and Regulations with respect to the use of the Hybrid-Y in place of the Hammerhead on dead-end roads under Section 300-2.1 through 300-6.1 of the Subdivision Rules and Regulations was continued to August 15, at 7:05 pm.

            The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is scheduled for Monday, August 15, at 7:00 pm in the Police Station conference room.

Marion Planning Board

By Mick Colageo

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