Town Master Plan Unveiled

After three years of dedicated effort, the Marion Planning Board on September 18 presented the completed Master Plan to a small crowd of Marion residents at the board’s Monday night meeting. The board is hoping the Master Plan will be adopted at the Fall Special Town Meeting on October 23.

Planning Board member Jennifer Francis introduced the presentation, reminding the audience of the long history of the development of the plan. She suggested to the group: “Keep in mind, this Master Plan is not a road map, but a vision. It doesn’t say how to get there; it describes what we want Marion to be in the next ten years.”

The plan is a result of five public workshops, hundreds of public comments, and input from various advisory groups. Francis pointed out that board member Norm Hills and former board member Rico Ferrari spearheaded the effort, and board member Steve Kokkins served on the committee. Hills reminded the attendees that approval of the plan is only the beginning, saying, “Implementation will require participation from the [Marion community].”

Grant King, a Principal Comprehensive Planner at SRPEDD who worked closely with the Planning Board on the Master Plan, presented a brief summary of the final product.

King informed the group that this presentation was “setting the table” for the Open House to be held Saturday, October 14, at Sippican School. SRPEDD staff members will be on hand that day to discuss each element of the plan in detail and answer any questions the public may have.

King described the organization of the plan, underscoring the effort the Planning Board made to ensure the plan was user friendly. As Kokkins had noted earlier, Grant described the plan as “a living, breathing document.”

“The Master Plan is concise, data rich and thorough, but approachable and engaging,” King said.

Each of the nine elements, or chapters, included in the plan begins with a quote derived from the comments provided by residents about their thoughts of and aspirations for Marion. This quote illustrates the theme of the element, which is then more fully described with goals and strategies for achieving the stated goals.

Grant pointed out that the Planning Board added the Climate Resiliency element to the Master Plan, which is not one of the elements currently required by Massachusetts State Law.

The Town has already begun implementing some strategies outlined by the plan, such as the Stewards of Community Open Space, a committee approved by the Board of Selectmen to bring all the organizations with an interest in open space together on one committee so that they may more effectively communicate.

In addition, Marion is part of the Community Compact Cabinet, which develops mutual standards and best practices with the state.

The Transportation and Circulation Task Force has been working under the tutelage of Francis and has completed the Complete Streets Policy, which enables the Town to apply for grant funding for transportation-related projects.

In closing, Grant reminded the group that there will be a survey distributed to the residents in October to assess the public transportation needs of the town residents.

In other business, the board dispensed with two Approval Not Required applications. Brian Grady of G.A.F. Engineering represented Sylvia Companies for a property located at 265 Wareham Street. The applicant wanted to create two lots from one, in which both lots were conforming to zoning in both area and frontage.

Hills asked what the intention for the two lots were, saying, “You’re probably not going to be able to build there because they are in a velocity zone and not likely to get sewer hook-up.” Grady acknowledged Hills’ comments, but could not elaborate on the future use of the lots.

The second ANR was for 30 Sippican Lane, on behalf of Lars and Ruth Olson, represented by Doug Schneider of N. Douglas Schneider & Associates. The application was the creation of two parcels, both to be conveyed to the abutter to the south. One lot was created to correct a 60-year-old error in which bounds had been inaccurately located and land had inadvertently been occupied due to this error. Both ANR applications were approved unanimously.

The public hearing for the Site Plan Review of the application for Tri-Town Motors located at 149 Wareham Street was presented by the applicant Dwight Crosby. The proposed business will be located in the old Comcast building, which Crosby said would be greatly improved in appearance with his high-end used car dealership. Crosby noted that they would leave the existing lighting on the building, and they intended to move the birch trees currently in front of the building to the side to shade the lighting from the neighbor.

Francis underscored the effort of the Planning Board to take the opportunity of a new business application to improve the appearance of Route 6.

“The change of use to a used car dealership is not a better-looking business,” she said. Francis was concerned about the lack of green space on the site, especially along the roadway, with the removal of the birch trees to the side of the building.

A lengthy discussion ensued regarding both the lighting and the plantings, with board members agreeing that the existing lighting may be acceptable but the planting along the road needed improvement.

Marion resident Susan Connor spoke enthusiastically in favor of the project, saying she knew the applicant both professionally and personally.

“We would be lucky to have people of this caliber in Marion,” said Connor.

After considerable discussion, the board agreed to approve the site plan with the condition that the applicant provide an updated plan showing the low evergreen plantings along Route 6 between the road and the five cars on display in the lot, and the lighting on the building would remain as it is currently. The board also approved the Special Permit for the change of use for the property.

The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is scheduled for October 2 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.

Marion Planning Board

By Sarah French Storer


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