Gilda’s Replacement Won’t Need Site-Plan Review

            The revival of the popular drinking establishment formerly known as Gilda’s Stone Rooster will not require site-plan review after a 4-0 vote by the Marion Planning Board on December 19.

            Attorney John Mathieu was on hand to represent owners Joe Sauro and John Mello in a presubmission conference on behalf of Stone Rooster Realty Corporation, LLC, for plans underway at 27 Wareham Street (Route 6 at the corner of River Road.)

            Sauro and Mello, who own other restaurants along Route 6 to the east and west of Gilda’s, purchased the property from Gilda Downey in 2017, explained Mathieu.

            Mathieu explained that the new establishment will be like the Stowaway in Mattapoisett, a bar-restaurant with a light menu. Unlike Gilda’s, it will not have live entertainment and will not attempt to compete with the Gateway Tavern, the Wareham restaurant owned by Sauro just over the Weweantic River.

            Situated in a General Business District, the bar-restaurant will be an allowable use. Mathieu said incidentals such as signage and parking are included in that zone.

            The General Business District, he said, says the property should have 15,000 square feet, 150 feet of frontage, a 35-foot front setback, at least 10 feet in back and side setbacks. The building should be no more than 35 feet tall. Current measurements are 21,180 square feet of property, a 49-foot front setback and another 26 feet to the Route 6 curb. Side setbacks are 29.7 feet and 10 more feet to River Road, the side setback on the river side is approximately 55 feet. The rear setback is approximately 42 feet to the lot line.

            Mathieu said the property has two, 50-foot curb cuts on Route 6, each opening measuring 24 feet. There is also access to the lot from River Road.

            Having secured a building permit, the owners began renovating but encountered more and more problems until it became necessary to essentially tear down and rebuild the facility. Using “essentially the same footprint,” an internal staircase adds 150 square feet in the rear, and a “kickout” design adds another 100 square feet.

            In response to the building inspector’s request for a parking analysis, Mathieu said the plan is for 26 parking spots laid out within the lot lines. Two parking spots will be needed for employees.

            Inside will be 20 bar seats, along with seven, four-seat tables, totaling 48 seats, a 2-to-1, patron-to-vehicle ratio. Two handicap parking spots, as required, will be closest to the front door.

            The landscaping plan will be filed with the Conservation Commission, and the parking lot will have a gravel surface. Delivery trucks and emergency vehicles will be able to access the rear of the building.

            Signs are in the planning stage and will follow zoning regulations, according to Mathieu. Any on-property lighting will face downward, he said.

            River Road resident and Planning Board member Chris Collings, who recused himself from his role on the board for both projects presented on December 19, said he would like to see the sign remain in its traditional location.

            Asked about sewer, Mathieu said he is sure, should sewer become available, the new owners will tie in.

            Another River Road abutter asked about building capacity. Mathieu said that number is state regulated but not yet available.

            Planning Board Chairman Norm Hills noted that there is a 15-foot buffer between the applicant’s land and Route 6.

            Abutter Richard Dix, 9 River Road, said the problems with the property began when Downey sold it. He said the business encroached on his land, where lights were installed. He said he went to court to establish boundaries according to the actual lot lines. He is concerned about the corner of the property along the Weweantic River.

            “All that parking on that side has actually been on our property,” said Dix.

            Mathieu insisted that the parking plan is within the lot lines. He said the lights along River Road and the light posts in question are coming out.

            Catherine Collings said ambient light from the old building disturbed her sleep. Mathieu said softer lighting will be installed in those areas.

            Chris Collings noted a utility pole across the street with a streetlight tilted up that “illuminates everything.” Mathieu clarified that the light falls into the purview of the utility company.

            Collings told the board, pending a vote, he had two more comments for Mathieu, one being that the back door swings outward and blocks a parking space, the other that the back area is below street grade and any runoff will backfill to the backdoor before it can eclipse the street grade.

            “That’s up to the engineer to figure that out,” said Mathieu.

            Town Planner Doug Guey-Lee, attending the meeting via Zoom, told the board that Building Commissioner Bob Grillo had submitted information for the board’s consideration prior to taking a vote.

            Hills told the board that according to the zoning bylaw, the project falls within the same footprint and by his interpretation of the bylaw, does not require site-plan review.

            Referencing the building’s history and given changing traffic patterns, Planning Board Vice Chairperson Alanna Nelson and member Eileen Marum had reservations given all the changes at the site.

            Mathieu said one of the points in his presentation was to go through the points that the board has already seen in minor site-plan review. “If you want us to do (site-plan review), what you’re going to get is a full-size plan that basically looks like what you have,” he said.

            Neither Andrew Daniel nor Jon Henry was present, but even minus Chris Collings, a four-member board still had a quorum. Their vote necessarily needed unanimity, and member Tucker Burr convinced Hills to seek a motion by saying he did not see the need for site-plan review.

            Chris Collings reiterated some of the concerns expressed by abutters and said that in his opinion, a checklist is needed. “Let’s bear in mind that the applicant is a new business,” he said, noting that abutters have been longtime community members.

            After the vote declaring site-plan review to be unnecessary, Mathieu told the board he is willing to discuss any issues with neighbors to the project.

            In a continued public hearing, the board voted to issue a certificate of approval for a two-lot, Definitive Subdivision Plan filed by Danielle Realty Trust for property on Wareham Street (Route 6.)

            At Nelson’s request, project representative Bob Rodgers of G.A.F. Engineering reviewed the drainage plan for members of the public.

            Rodgers explained that the grading and drainage designs send water from the hill into the road’s drain system. There are seven catch basins and three drain manholes for 250 feet of roadway. The system is tied into an 18-inch pipe under River Road, running out to Route 6 and the drainage easement there.

            Hills said the only change in the site plan was the relocation backward of the drainage basin at the center of the driveway circle. Now planned for 15 feet back of the pavement, the purpose of the change is to avoid a snowplow covering the drain. The concern, addressed in a prior meeting by Daniel, was that a blocked catch basin would cause flooding.

            Sandra Beck, 17 River Road, explained her main concern is storm runoff.

            “Based on the design in discussion last time was that the design is sufficient to collect all of that water and put it in the drain system and out to the ocean,” said Hills.

            Chris Collings, a River Road resident, recused himself from his role as a board member but asked questions as an abutter.

            Rodgers explained that it’s normal to install catch basins every 300 or 400 feet, but this system far exceeds normal requirements.

            “This is much more intensive than that,” said Rodgers, noting that regulations require the applicant to prepare for a 25-year storm event. Rodgers said the design will meet the standards required by a storm pouring 3 inches of rain in an hour.

            Aaron Barton, 24 River Road, asked the board if a resident has recourse should runoff damage private property.

            “All I can tell you is the other projects (to which Barton alluded) have no calculations and accommodations for stormwater. This one does,” said Hills, noting that the experts involved “do this for a living.” He told Barton, should there be a problem, to come back to the town. But he reiterated a lack of concern given the plan.

            “My understanding of the law is that if there are two private-property owners and one is damaging for some reason another private property, then you can seek legal recourse through civil court,” said Guey-Lee.

            Burr sought to confirm a covenant in the agreement that one property owner is not allowed to discharge water onto other private property. Nelson read from a section of the agreement confirming Burr’s recall.

            Citing “exhaustive attention” given to the runoff matter, Guey-Lee said “some things that are unforeseeable.” That said, he reiterated his opinion that the Planning Board has given more than adequate consideration to concern about runoff and has taken steps to ensure stormwater is appropriately managed.

            Marum noted that Rodgers has said that the plan is designed to handle a 100-year storm.

            Nelson asked, hypothetically, what could go wrong and why could the plan fail. The covering of manholes with leaves makes failure possible, but Nelson said the property owners are supposed to be made aware of their responsibility to keep them free of debris. She also allowed for the possibility that “gunk” could get into the pipe connecting the drainage system to River Road. She and Hills clarified that the two homeowners in the subdivision are responsible for the system remaining free of blockage.

            After no online listeners responded to an invitation to participate in public comment, the public hearing was closed and the affirmative vote was taken.

            Noting that the public comments centered around concern over maintenance of a private drainage system over time, Collings suggested the board consider “a vehicle” or tool to ensure services are provided to abutters to such projects in the event of failure, the cost of which would then burden the culprits.

            Hills said the subject could be discussed at a future meeting.

            The Planning Board offered no official comment on the Zoning Board of Appeals’ request for comment on the case of Don Easterday at 52 Cove Circle.

            The board is still gathering comments from its members on the recent SmartGrowth class. Hills said he has received comments from Nelson and Collings.

            Citing COVID-19 concerns, the board decided to meet remotely next month. Due to holidays, the next two meetings fall on Tuesdays. The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is scheduled for Tuesday, January 3, at 7:00 pm via Zoom.

Marion Planning Board

By Mick Colageo

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