Fate of Solar Farm Remains Undecided

The Marion Zoning Board of Appeals discussed a proposed County Road solar farm installation on April 17, meeting for a remand hearing for Dale and Laura Briggs regarding the project. The Planning Board and the ZBA have grappled over how to classify the proposed solar installation under the town by-laws.

The Briggses appealed the ZBA’s prior denial to the Land Court, and the February 6, 2014 court ruling focused on what constitutes “light manufacturing.”

In general, the court ruled that, if the solar facility is not engaging in light manufacturing, then the ZBA may grant the permit.

The judge povided guidelines in the form of questions for the ZBA to determine which by-law would be appropriate. What type of business activity is already permitted in residential zones in Marion? What characterizes an industrial activity and light manufacturing in particular? Does the activity employ full or part-time employees? Do raw materials, feedstock, or finished products require transportation to or from the site? Are there machines or mechanical moving parts required to perform the assembly, processing, packaging or shipping functions?

In reviewing the data from the Land Court, it appeared that the answers were “no” to all of the issues that would deem the solar operation as light manufacturing; however, due to the importance of the decision to be made, the ZBA agreed to continue to study the issue and discuss it again at their May 15 meeting.

In other business, the board discussed Patricia Figueiredo’s application for a special permit to reconstruct a porch removed from an existing non-conforming structure during the 1970s. The property is located at 54 South Street.

Figueiredo addressed the board and had a photo of the home with the preexisting porch prior to its removal. The request was to add a farmer’s porch, similar to the one on a neighboring property. The proposed porch would wrap around from east to west and connect to the current front porch. The east side existing setback is 20.5 feet, and the porch dimensions would not decrease the setback.

The board approved the special permit for Figueiredo.

By Joan Hartnett-Barry


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