On October 23, the voters in Marion wasted no time passing seven of nine articles that comprised the 2017 Special Town Meeting Warrant. Voters were in and out in under an hour, as a matter of fact.
After waiting about 15 minutes for the Sippican School auditorium to fill with at least 50 registered voters constituting a quorum, Board of Selectmen Chairman Jody Dickerson presented retiring Police Chief Lincoln Miller with a commemorative gift in appreciation and recognition for his many years of dedication and service to the town. Dickerson noted that Miller had demonstrated an interest in the Police Department as a small boy when he would, “…peddle his bicycle to the station.” The voters gave Miller a warm round of applause.
Then it was on to the business at hand, with the first seven articles being unanimously passed with little to no debate, and the last two being passed over.
Article 1: The transfer of $7,900 from free cash for the purchase of a speed monitor trailer.
The article sought voters’ agreement to invest in a new speed detection device that could be moved from location to location in an effort to heighten motorists’ attention on their traveling speed along Marion’s roadways and to collect data.
Tinker Saltonstall, long-time Front Street resident in the heart of Marion’s village, rose to speak in favor of the purchase, saying that cars slow down when passing along Front Street at Tabor Academy due to the automated speed monitoring signs located there, but then accelerate “to an immense speed” from that point on. She lobbied for placement of a new speed monitoring device and its placement in front of the Music Hall.
One voter asked why the requested amount wasn’t placed in the Police Department budget versus a Special Town Meeting article. Chief Miller responded that it was not a recurring budget item and thus should be handled in this manner.
Article 2: Appropriation of $25,000 from free cash for maintenance of the town’s cemeteries. It was clear that the voters were in agreement – the cemeteries need attention. Belmiro Barros, Wareham Road, said that trees and shrubbery should be removed from cemeteries as their root systems made it impossible to keep graves tidy.
Chairman of the Cemetery Committee Margie Baldwin said that graves were often neglected or forgotten as years went by, and the town needed to provide the Cemetery Committee with funding to ensure proper maintenance.
Article 3: A request for the transfer of $105,408 from free cash to purchase LED lights from Eversource. William Saltonstall of the town’s Energy Management Committee said that all 322 streetlights owned by the town would be fitted with new energy saving equipment after a study to determine the correct wattage at each location. The town would save approximately $18,000 per year in electrical costs.
Article 4: A request for the transfer of $9,879 from free cash to correct an error in the town’s payment of the 2017 Old Rochester Regional School District Assessment.
Article 5: Supported by the Finance Committee, a request to authorize the Selectmen to enter into a PILOT program – Payment in Lieu of Taxes – with Marion MA 1 LLC of Louisville, Colorado. FinCom Chairman Alan Minard explained that the town would receive a “defined payment schedule” over the 20-year program. He said the first year’s payment would be $14,000 with a 2 percent increase annually over the life of the program.
Article 6: Approval of the 2017 Marion Master Plan as developed by the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) and the Planning Board. Members of the Planning Board shared the long, hard work that had taken place to craft the latest master plan and urged the voters to accept it.
Article 7: To see if voters would accept the “Town of Marion Final Draft” for improvements to the Zoning Bylaws that will be searchable on the Internet and more user friendly overall.
Articles 8 and 9 were passed over after it was determined by town counsel that easements over properties located at Great Hill had previously been authorized and approved at a town meeting taking place several years ago.
Marion Fall Special Town Meeting
By Marilou Newell