The small crowd that gathered at the Marion Planning Board meeting on November 20 spoke in favor of a redevelopment proposal for a property on Wareham Street that has been an eyesore for the neighborhood for years.
The proponents were represented by David Davignon of N. Douglas Schneider & Associates, who methodically went through the details of the project for the Site Plan Review.
The property at 111 Wareham Street is bounded to the south by Marvel Street, an unimproved private road. The proposed access to both parcels will be via Wareham Street, with a legal access easement for crossing to the back lot. A 60-foot by 100-foot Morton-style building is proposed for each parcel, with four garage bays in each.
The two owners of the lots, Tad Wallenhaupt and Alexander Urquhart, intend to occupy at least one bay in each building, with the intent of renting the other bays to tradesmen such as plumbers and carpenters.
The proposal provides ample paved parking for the employees of the tenants, with four spaces for each bay.
Davignon did note that the applicants are asking for a waiver for the setback requirements for the detention ponds, saying that in his opinion the requirements are unrealistic for a commercial development.
The Planning Board pushed back on this idea, with board member Jennifer Francis on speaker phone stating “I’m sure there is good reason for the setbacks. I’d like to know if they are okay with the peer reviewer.” She added that she thought smaller buildings would solve the problem, implying that with reduced impervious surface, the ponds could be smaller and not require a waiver from setback requirements.
Traffic remained a concern for Marum, who had raised issues back in June about the proximity of the crest of the hill on Route 6 and the entrance to the site, noting her own near miss with a commercial truck recently.
Davignon came armed with accident data, which showed three accidents at the location in the last five years. Marum was not convinced and said she may still want to ask for a traffic study before granting the permit.
Francis raised the question of a landscaping plan, and Davignon described plantings that will screen the property from Route 6 and the neighbors. There are existing arborvitaes that will be trimmed back, but the proponents have no plans for removing any existing vegetative screening.
The Site Plan Review process may also require an environmental assessment of the site, which Francis also thought may be prudent due to the current conditions on the site. Davignon pointed out that the board had already waived this assessment at the meeting in June, and wondered aloud “I don’t know if that is binding.”
Neighbors to the project all spoke in favor of the proposal, noting that the property had been an eyesore for years.
Wallenhaupt lives directly behind the site and assured the board that the site will be hugely improved for the benefit of his neighbors and the entire town.
The board continued the public hearing pending the peer review letter from Tibbetts Engineering on behalf of the board and input from the fire chief on access and safety.
In other business, Bill Madden from G.A.F. Engineering, representing Luba Bilentschuk, presented an Approval Not Required application for a property located on Ridgewood Lane. Madden reminded the board that back in 2007 and 2010, a one-lot subdivision was created to show that the property could conform to the subdivision control laws. Now, the owners would like to market the property and would like to combine the buildable lot, known as Lot 23, with the 9,400 square-foot drainage easement lot, known as lot 23A.
The drainage easement lot was designed for drainage for the proposed road to access the building lot, as required by the subdivision control law. However, there will be only one house on this parcel, serviced by a driveway, and the parcel earmarked for drainage is unnecessary.
In response to Marum, who noticed that the property had come before the board in 2016, Madden said that the owners were required by the selectmen to show that they were able to convey 70 acres of land to a land trust as open space. Madden also felt that the wetland line will need to be reflagged and approved by the Conservation Commission. The parcel went through an interdepartmental review, in which the Fire Chief agreed to the 12-foot wide driveway.
The board approved the ANR plan.
The board performed a housekeeping measure in which they agreed to recommend that an article be placed on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant for a zoning change for land located on Spring Street. The change would be from General Business/Limited Industrial to Residence E.
After the vote, Planning Director Gil Hilario suggested he begin the process of gathering together a multi-board workshop, including the Planning Board, the Board of Selectmen, Department of Public Works, and other stakeholders. This workshop would be convened, as Hilario put it, to “develop a clear definition of what is going to happen.”
Board member Will Saltonstall cautioned the board to be clear about its purpose. “[We are] not pre-negotiating terms of what the subdivision will be. Be very clear as a representative of the Planning Board [we are] just opening the door to discussion,” he said.
Hilario added, “[We] cannot appear to endorse or prefer any development. Sherman [Briggs] has not been promised anything.”
The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is scheduled for December 4 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.
Marion Planning Board
By Sarah French Storer