Planning Board Discusses Water Quality Facility

Marion Planning Board Chairman Robert Lane announced at the November 21 meeting that Mattapoisett Town Planner Ken Buckland had accepted a full-time position as Town Planner in Wareham.

“He has agreed to stay on in a part-time role until we can get the rest of the Master Plan sorted out,” Lane continued, “and we wish him the best of luck and hope he’ll stay in touch.”

“I’ve got your cell phone number,” board member Steve Kokkins told Buckland jovially, getting a chuckle out of Buckland.

Susan Nilson, representative for CLE Engineering, came before the board for a pre-submission conference regarding development of 172 and 177 Water Street. The lot in question was formerly the site of Sippican Hardware, and past development projects there have gone awry.

“We’d like a pre-submission conference to discuss our ideas for this development with you, and consider possible waivers,” Nilson indicated. “The Buzzards Bay Coalition would like to develop a Marion Field Operations facility. The owner is looking to lease the land to the coalition.”

Nilson explained that the building’s functions would include coastal water quality collection and analysis. The building would also host volunteer training and would be a storage center for any water quality equipment including collection equipment and small boats.

“We’re trying to keep as much green space as possible,” she assured the board. “We’re looking to develop two swale holes for groundwater and there will be a gravel parking lot. There’s also a five thousand square-foot storage area meant for future development, but we wanted to get it approved now with everything else.”

With Nilson was Lars Olson of Lars V. Olson Fine Home Building, who is also working on the project.

“We’re also looking for two waiver requests,” said Olson. “One for the environmental assessment, as the site was previously developed, and one for the traffic study, as we feel that with two people in the office on any day, the effect on Spring Street will be negligible.” He added that they were also hoping to skip a site plan review as the coalition, which is labeled as an educational non-profit, falls under the Dover Amendment.

“I don’t think it applies, and I do think the board is entitled to a site plan,” countered Lane.

“We want to make it clear that there’s no intent to subvert any local laws,” Olson replied. “This is an educational non-profit. We’re just hoping to save some time and definitely some money.”

“It doesn’t speak to the Dover Amendment, though. I don’t see how it could be considered unreasonable for us to ask to see the site plan,” Lane returned. “It seems like the board is excited about the idea, but we still want to see. We have a responsibility to this town to make sure that everything built here is built in their best interests.”

Lane then opened up the discussion to the rest of the board, looking for their questions. “Are you going to be storing any chemicals in this building?” asked Eileen Marum.

“We talked about this last night; there will be minimal chemicals at this building. Everything will fit into a small cabinet,” Olson explained. “There will never be more than one 55-gallon drum of chemicals here at any one time.”

“Are you going to be leasing the land? Will the Buzzards Bay Coalition own the building?” asked Jennifer Francis.

“Eventually the land and building will be gifted to the coalition by the owner,” Nilson explained.

“And are these solar panels I see in the plans?” Francis asked again, cheerfully.

“They are,” said Nilson. “We’re trying to maximize solar power. The goal is that eventually this building will be net zero.”

Lane said, “I find it hard to believe you’ll be able to handle the circulation of trucks with trailers internally. If you have to put the boat away, you’ll need to use the road and you’ll be tying up traffic at a major intersection.”

“It’s a two-times-a-year event,” Olson explained. “The boat is stored in November and goes out in April. We’d be using the backspace itself to maneuver the boat rather than the road itself.”

“You say it’s a two-times-a-year event now, but what happens if you decide to do more in five years, who’s to say that won’t change?” Lane argued.

The board decided to waive the environmental assessment and the traffic survey, but noted that they would expect a detailed explanation of exactly how the traffic would be maneuvered within the site plan presented.

“This is a good use for the site. It’s attractive, a great organization, and I approve of it,” said board member Will Saltonstall. The other board members echoed their consensus.

The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board will be on Monday, December 5 at 7:00 pm in the Marion Town House.

By Andrea Ray


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