December 18 was yet another Marion Planning Board meeting during which some board members wrangled with engineer David Davignon regarding 111 Wareham Road, which has raised a number of issues over an apparent uneven application and unclear articulation of town policies.
Davignon, of N. Douglas Schneider & Associates, presented revised plans for the project, addressing prior board concerns. The Marvel Street entrance was removed from the plan, and board member Will Saltonstall confirmed that the fire chief was satisfied with the Route 6 entrance for fire trucks.
Davignon requested waivers from two requirements of the Site Plan Review: the photometric plan for the site and the requirement to use a concrete drain pipe in one location. Both waivers were granted, with a condition requiring motion sensors on the floodlights and wall packs on the buildings pointed downward at a 30-degree angle. Also, the high-density plastic pipe used in place of concrete must be rated to withstand truck travel.
Davignon also agreed his client would supply a “Trucks Entering” sign for Route 6, but insisted it was appropriate for the Marion Police Department to make the request to MassDOT, and that the DPW should install it. The board agreed. The applicant will install a stop sign on his property at the exit.
The point of contention this evening was the issue of supplying potable water to the site.
Davignon prioritized the three options his client desires: using the existing well on the site, which would be registered with and tested annually for potability by MADEP; traversing Marvel Street to access the existing waterline on Green Street; or accessing the water main directly across Route 6.
Board member Norm Hills vehemently opposed the use of the well, pointing out that properties are required to tie in to town water if it’s available. Davignon said his client favored the existing well option as potentially the least expensive one and questioned the validity of the tie-in requirement by asking, “If the well is potable, I’m not sure the town can stop us from using the well. Is it a bylaw?”
The board’s consensus was that it was a town policy.
Resident Sherman Briggs spoke to the issue, saying, “The policy has never been followed to a ‘T’ in my time in Marion.”
Board member Andrew Daniel expressed concern that the board should apply the same requirement to everyone and wondered aloud if the town can make a resident use town water.
Fellow board member Chris Collings noted that the issue was not about residents’ rights, but rather “… [the town] finding customers to pay the water bill.”
Hills was steadfast in his opinion that the property must tie in to the waterline, despite member Stephen Kokkins articulating a general condition in which the site plan approval would state that “adequate potable water must be provided to the site…”
The discussion concluded with Davignon requesting the issue be brought before town counsel for an opinion as to whether the board can mandate a property owner tie in to the town water and sewer system. The board agreed, with Daniel speaking in support of the idea.
“This puts the issue to bed for everyone in the future too,” said Daniel.
The applicant agreed to continue the hearing until January to provide the board time to speak to town counsel and draft the approval letter.
Throughout the evening, reference was made to the meeting held last week regarding the proposed zoning change on Spring Street from General Business to Residence E. The meeting, described by board members as very productive, brought together other town boards and departments to discuss the framework for the zoning change.
Collings questioned the process and asked if the sequence of events was appropriate, saying, “If the Town of Marion doesn’t like what the developer wants to do, are we required to change zoning?” He then asked, “What does the Planning Board want? We are challenged because it is not our property.”
Kokkins reminded the board that they had sponsored the article because it was an appropriate fit for the location. Chairperson Eileen Marum noted the amenities in the area, and Saltonstall added, “This housing component is the first component of other uses in the area.”
Still, Collings wondered, “We don’t need a concrete plan before we vote on a zoning change? We have a great idea and we need a zoning change to make it happen. We all like the idea, but I want to make sure it is happening in the right order.”
The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is scheduled for January 8 at 7:00 pm.
Marion Planning Board
By Sarah French Storer