Tight Schedule Cuts Beach Street Hearing Short

            Disgruntled abutters to a project proposed for Beach Street left the Marion Planning Board meeting dissatisfied on April 16.

            The late afternoon public hearing for a new subdivision was cut short due to a scheduling conflict with the Board of Selectmen brought on by the Monday holiday.

            It was a packed agenda when the board met early on Tuesday night, and board members acknowledged they would need to be efficient to get though all the scheduled items.

            Most in attendance were interested in a proposed subdivision at 213 Converse Road, owned by 22 Cove Street LLC, and represented this evening by David Davignon of N. Douglas Schneider & Associates.

            The public hearing was scheduled late on the docket, allowing only enough time for Davignon to go through the extensive list of waiver requests after presenting the overview of the project.

            The 3.63-acre lot, located between Beach Street and Zora Road, is proposed to be divided into three lots. One-acre Lot 3 will get its frontage on Converse Road with its existing house, while the other roughly one-acre lots will get their required frontage on a 20-foot wide paved cul-de-sac coming in off of Beach Street through a lot which, according to Davignon, the owners purchased for this purpose.

            The required drainage system is made up of grass swales and a “dry pond” detention basin in the easterly portion of lot 2. There is a wetland flagged in the northeast corner of the parcel, a sewer stub located on the Beach Street lot, and the owners intend to bring town sewer and water to the new lots. In addition, there will be a fire hydrant placed along the cul-de-sac near Lot 2.

            Neither the fire chief nor the Board of Health had any objections to the project.

Before enumerating the requested waivers, Davignon acknowledged, “It sounds like a long list of waivers, but it is innocuous to me – [these regulations] are designed for larger subdivision plans … and are overkill [for a project this size.]”

            Davignon went on to discuss the waiver from the materials list for the roadway, and one for the requirement of a development impact statement, which he said was designed for a subdivision of over 20 units. He described the requirement for a 200-foot midline radius required in the cul-de-sac design and illustrated why it is necessary for larger projects, but with the minor size of this project, he argued it was a “technicality, not a safety issue.”

            Davignon also asked for a waiver for the use of granite curbs and proposed “Cape Cod berms” instead, saying they were more in keeping with the neighborhood, citing the lack of curbs entirely on Beach Street. He also requested a waiver from placing the drainage pond on a separate lot, placing a 12-foot wide access path around it, requiring the pond be setback 100 feet from residences, and requiring a landscape architect to stamp the planting plans for the screening of the pond.

            Davignon pointed to the diminutive size of the pond, with dimensions of 35 feet by 70 feet and three feet deep, as support for the waiver requests. He assured the board that the pond will not be holding water and will not attract mosquitoes.

            Planning Board Chairman Will Saltonstall noted that Davignon’s plans do not designate a species or size of some of the plantings, and Davignon said the issue could be decided during the approval process.

            Saltonstall, noting the time and the other agenda items, suggested that the board “[did not] have time to debate this.”

            Planning Board member Chris Collings remarked, “There’s a lot to talk about.”

            Saltonstall noted that the board had hired a consulting engineer to review the technical aspects of the plan, but did not have that information yet.

            Before continuing the public hearing, residents in attendance expressed frustration that the board was not allowing the public to voice their concerns this evening. Saltonstall urged those unable to attend the next public hearing to submit their concerns in writing.

            A number of abutters also claimed to not have been notified about the project, as required by law. The hearing was continued to May 6 at 7:10 pm.

            Earlier in the evening, Davignon presented the board with two proposals containing Approval Not Required (ANR) lots, one that required a public hearing and one that did not. Both proposals were for 78 Wareham Street, owned by Henry and Judith DeJesus.

            The first was an application to create two ANR lots, with adequate acreage and frontage on Route 6. In addition, there is a 50-foot wide strip of land measuring 110 feet at the curb cut between the two lots leading to a 14-acre rear parcel labeled as unbuildable on the plan.

            Davignon shared a conceptual plan of what the rear lot could be in the future, which included five lots getting their frontage off of a roadway leading in from Route 6. This plan caused some confusion and concern among the Planning Board members and the public.

            George “T.J.” Walker, 639 Point Road, suggested that the board was creating a lot without adequate frontage and, if the frontage was to serve as access for the rear parcel, the board was not discussing the adequacy of the way.

            Davignon responded that the ANR planning process was very fluid and, if the lot lines needed to be moved in the future, it would be a simple matter to come before the board with a new ANR plan.

            Saltonstall expressed concern that the board was creating a non-conforming lot by default, with the rear lot not having adequate frontage.

            Davignon underscored where the ANR application states that a rear lot is not required to have 250 feet of frontage if it is labelled on the plan as “unbuildable”. He urged the board to think of the process as analogous to a conveyance from one neighbor to another.

            Planning Board and board of Selectmen member Norm Hills stated, “[It] becomes unbuildable until something changes in the future.”

            The board tabled this discussion to address the other plan before them from the same applicant. This was a public hearing for a rear lot definitive subdivision plan for the DeJesus property east of the first proposal.

            The subdivision would create two ANR lots on Route 6, with the balance of the parcel becoming the rear lot, including the DeJesus’ home. A 35-foot strip of land connecting the rear lot to Route 6 would meet the frontage requirement for a rear lot.

            Davignon highlighted the difference between the two proposals, saying that creating a legal rear lot requires that the applicants go through the subdivision process.

            Saltonstall stated that his “inclination is that the rear lot does meet the criteria.”

            When board member Andrew Daniel suggested other ways to create access for the DeJesus home, Davignon said plainly, “What we have done is create as many ANR lots as possible and gave [DeJesus] the balance. … [DeJesus is] trying to maximize property value.”

            After an inconclusive discussion as to whether the rear lot must use the 35-foot access for its driveway, the board unanimously approved the subdivision plan. 

Saltonstall alluded to the prospect of a housing development occurring on the site, including a 40B, which prompted resident Sherman Briggs to rise to address the board.

            Briggs asked Davignon to show the conceptual design of the subdivision for the first proposal, and said, “I’m all for ANR and rear lots, but the Planning Board needs to fix our bylaws. Seven lots [in a subdivision] trigger a free affordable lot,” Briggs continued. “That’s why it’s not happening” he said, referring to the conceptual plan showing a five- or six-lot subdivision tacked onto the two ANR lots.

            Saltonstall noted that the lawsuit brought by the owner of 78 Wareham Street appealing the board’s decision regarding the solar farm proposed for the parcel has been dropped. After a short discussion, the board approved the ANR application for 78 Wareham Road, with the remaining rear parcel designated as unbuildable.

            Also during the meeting, the board approved the change of use for the Masonic Lodge located at 11 Spring Street. Russell and Brigitte Benoit’s proposal is for, as Benoit put it, “A non-traditional blend of physical therapy and personal training” for people 50 years of age and older. Benoit stated there would be no more than seven people at the business at one time. The board unanimously approved the change of use.

            The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is scheduled for May 6 at 7:00 pm in the Marion Town House.

Marion Planning Board

By Sarah French Storer

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