Sleepover at Realtor’s Debated

            Attorney Cary Leblanc represented applicants Bernadette Kelly and L. Sheldon Daly in an opening discussion with the Marion Planning Board on October 18, as the prospective applicant seeks authorization to create a concierge service for their real estate clients when visiting the area.

            Currently permitted by-right for business use, Kelly and Daly hope to use the second floor of their 313 Wareham Road office, formerly occupied by T12 Engineering, as an occasional overnight option for use by clients in sudden need.

            “What Bernadette and Sheldon are trying to do is put up their clients at no extra expense,” explained Leblanc, who pointed out to the board that Converse Realty similarly received authorization to use the second floor of its Front Street office building as a guesthouse.

            In digesting the case, Planning Board Chairman Will Saltonstall referred to guidance from Building Commissioner Scott Shippey. While not specifically outlined in the bylaws, the term “dwelling” typically applies to a permanent residence, said Saltonstall. In this case, it’s a short-term residence, therefore like unto a bed-and-breakfast.

            Member Eileen Marum asked why clients don’t just book a stay at the bed-and-breakfast on Front Street. Leblanc said that delays in closings and other legal activities around the transfer of property are often sudden and that the traffic in real estate since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic has been unusually busy.

            Saltonstall asked the applicants to make sure before applying that “you feel confident about your building” regarding code as it applies to the containment and prevention of fire.

            “I feel like, (at) that site, the intensity of use there has been great, maybe too great at times,” he said, referring to cars being double and triple parked.

            Marum expanded on her concern that the purpose of the building would ultimately change into a residential apartment, but Saltonstall argued that mixed-use is appropriate and even healthy for Route 6.

            Noting that the Planning Board is the Special Permit-granting authority, not the Zoning Board of Appeals, Saltonstall’s initial thought was that the Planning Board should hear the case.

            The discussion had gone deep when member Norm Hills, who joined the meeting in progress, insisted that the matter falls into the ZBA’s purview and hearing the case “would be stepping on their toes.”

            It was decided that before Kelly and Daly file an application, the Planning Board would seek advice from town counsel. Town Planner Doug Guey Lee agreed with the decision; he and Saltonstall will seek legal advice before a recommendation comes back to the board.

            Leblanc said she will take the board’s feedback, research the questions, and will be eager to present findings in a public hearing in early November.

            The Planning Board’s vote to continue to November 1 a public hearing as requested by Special Permit applicant Sherman Briggs and Hamblin Homes, Inc. for a 28-unit residential complex at Spring and Mill streets will not transpire after Briggs pulled his application later in the week.

            According to Saltonstall, the request to continue was accompanied by a supplemental package of engineering information from Steve Poole of Lakeview Associates. But the peer-review budget was empty as of the October 18 meeting, so review by Beals and Thomas, Inc. would not have been able to continue.

            The ZBA requested comment from the Planning Board on an application to provide affordable housing at 20 Beach Street. Marum said that since the activity will not create any building, the matter should rest with the ZBA.

            The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is scheduled for Monday, November 1, at 7:00 pm.

Marion Planning Board

By Mick Colageo

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