Heron Cove Hinges on Sewer Situation

            Marion’s brimming town-sewer capacity continued to play a role in discussions over a proposed development off of Wareham Road, where a 96-unit, Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40B condominium complex was once again discussed, this time at the July 23 meeting of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals via remote access.

            In a continuation of a case that goes back to 2019 and beyond in cases involving the same land, Heron Cove Estates was back on the agenda.

            Town Counsel Jon Witten asked acting ZBA Chairperson Christina Frangos to have the board calculate with Steen attorney Paul Haggerty where the project sits on the 180-day clock vis-a-vis the expiration of the hearing that was opened in March. It was decided a 90-day extension would be granted.

            At the end of the meeting, Frangos’ appointment would become official by member vote.

            Phil Cordeiro of Allen and Major Associates, representing Steen, addressed two peer reviews coordinated by Van Ness Associates (traffic engineering) and Merrill Associates (traffic engineering). Cordeiro reported particularly along the civil-engineering side that, while clarifications were sought, no wholesale changes were being recommended.

            “We believe that we’re in a very good position with your consultants having reviewed the application,” he said. 

            Cordeiro reported to the ZBA that peer review had affirmed that all applications had been properly filed including for the Local Initiative Program (LIP) application that relates to 40B affordable housing projects that are sought on a non-adversarial basis inside towns. The stormwater peer review came back as adequate without further comment.

            Cordeiro expressed hope that, in addressing Merrill’s peer-review remarks and revising accordingly, the project could achieve “a clean bill of health” and “sign-off letter” from Merrill “in the near term.” He insisted that the project will have a relatively small traffic impact on the Route 6 corridor.

            The issue of sewer connection remains a significant hurdle, as referenced by Merrill in its peer review.

            “Unfortunately, our sewer connection can’t be arrived at conclusively, until the results of the study being conducted by the town as a prerequisite to this project are being released,” said Cordeiro. “As soon as we can collectively review that as a design team and obviously with the town consultant team, I believe we can get right into the sewer connection and get that resolved as well.”

            Shippey said the stormwater went through DPW with staffer Meghan Davis, who gave the “thumbs up” with stormwater management.

            Ken Steen responded to Frangos’ question as to a sample lease agreement outlining any restrictions that would be place on the residents. Steen said he had such a packet and intended to send it to Town House that week and could email it to 

            “We use a standard Massachusetts lease agreement for all of our apartments… We’re pretty confident that it’s a compliant lease that’s going to be acceptable to the board,” said Steen.

            The ZBA asked about the townhouse design that was submitted back in March. Frangos indicated that the feeling at the prior meeting was that the design does not aesthetically reflect coastal New England.

            Steen said he will revisit the matter with the architect and plan to submit a revised design in the next couple of weeks.

            “I also want the board to keep in mind that we for 35 years have been primarily building affordable housing,” said Steen.

            Witten explained to the ZBA that the Board of Selectmen’s endorsement of the project was accepted by Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and that became the project’s ticket to deal with the ZBA.

            The hearing was continued to September 10. An in-person meeting would become possible at the Music Hall.

            In other business, a Special Permit was approved by the ZBA for Case 777, an application for allowance under zoning bylaw Section 230-8.6 to build an accessory apartment adjacent to the primary dwelling at 44 Briggs Lane.

            Brian Grady of GAF Engineering represented owner Cheryl Arnie and her daughter Catherine Duncan, who will live in the added apartment.

            As a Special Permit, four affirmative ZBA votes were required. There were only four voting members of the ZBA present at the meeting so a unanimous vote was required.

            Grady said he prefers a five-person voting body, and Witten assured him of his right to request a continuance but that four members constitutes a quorum and, in this case, a “super majority” is needed for approval. Frangos asked Grady what he would like to do, but added there is no guarantee there will be five voting members present at the board’s next meeting. Grady said, unless there is objection by the applicant, he would proceed with the presentation.

            Sarah Johnston, designer for project, presented two things, add an in-law apartment under 50 percent of the existing residence (16,056 square feet) at 773 square feet. The proposal also adds to an existing, one-car garage, the addition facing the street right next to the garage door. The dwellings share the garage. There would be an entrance from the garage to the apartment and another from outside.

            Frangos noted that Concom (June 30) considered the project not within its jurisdiction, and the Board of Health (June 22) had no objection as the dwelling is serviced by town water and sewer.

            Details were discussed, and Frangos emphasized that the Special Permit will not convey with the sale of the property. Building Commissioner/Zoning Officer Scott Shippee anticipates a more detailed plan from the applicant.

            The next meeting of the Marion ZBA is scheduled for August 13.

Marion Zoning Board of Appeals

By Mick Colageo

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