ZBA Closing in on Heron Cove Approval

            Developer Ken Steen and his engineering representative Phil Cordeiro of Allen & Major Associates, Inc. made such a strong impression in their June 9 presentation of the Heron Cove residential project to the Marion Zoning Board of Appeals that the only thing holding back the board from a vote was member Dana Nilson’s suggestion that peer-review consultant Peter Palmieri be given time to properly digest the site-plan revisions announced by Cordeiro.

            The Local Initiative Program (LIP) planned under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40B and endorsed by the Select Board in accordance with 760CMR45-00 is to be situated on the south side of Route 6 near the Wareham town line.

            Due to its affordable-housing component, the rental property is subject to state law and locally only by the Marion ZBA.

            In a continued public hearing on June 9, Cordeiro presented updates on traffic and drainage plans since those matters were addressed by Marion’s peer-review consultants.

            Acknowledging the presence of traffic consultant Jason Adams from McMahon Associates for board questions, Cordeiro said the site plan was revised in accordance with peer review’s recommendation so that driveways not abutting sidewalks would be made a minimum of 21 feet long to the gutter line. Where they abut a sidewalk, driveways will be 23 feet long.

            The driveways previously measured 18 feet long so the result was a shift backward of 3 feet in lost green space for the affected units. In the case of sidewalks, units shifted backward 5 feet.

            Some of the shifting, explained Cordeiro, varied slightly in order to preserve a 20-foot gap in between units. Relative to the property line, the units went from a 30-foot setback to as close as 24 feet in some cases.

            Soil testing in seven test pits, said Cordeiro, revealed some sandy soil with “high infiltrative capabilities” in the northwest corner of the property and in the southeast corner some “low, permeable soils – better than our original design assumptions but still generally slow with high water table.”

            While the southeast basin will remain basically the same with an updated drainage value based on updated soil conditions, the developers sought to revise the plan for an open-air retention basin.

            Citing abutters’ feedback and updated soils information, Cordeiro told the ZBA that Steen would go back to an underground infiltration system in its totality. Plastic chambers embedded in stone, which Cordeiro said would eliminate retaining wall and move the drainage away from the property line and accommodate some recommended plantings.

            The tennis court will remain in the site plan, and the additional space created by putting the drainage system entirely underground will be open to the residents.

            Palmieri acknowledged improvements in the revisions presented by Cordeiro. Jeff Dirk, Marion’s other peer-review consultant, said that Steen’s group was “very responsive” to his comments.

            Nilson asked about other items in Palmieri’s peer-review letter and suggested an itemized list so the board can check the boxes and expedite a vote.

            Cordeiro summarized that such a punch list is typically provided after the project is advanced to the construction-detail phase of design. He said the time in between would afford Steen the ability to consult with the right professionals before presenting such a detailed plan for the ZBA’s consumption.

            “Going back to the Marion Village Estates project, if you go back and look at that comprehensive permit of these conditions that remain outstanding … are written in such a way that they remain outstanding in terms of the condition of the permit,” said Steen, giving examples of the process.

            ZBA Chairperson Cynthia Callow clarified the message of a multiple-stages process. Cordeiro confirmed Callow’s summary of his explanation regarding the project’s information highway.

            Callow indicated she expects a crowd at the Police station for the ZBA’s June 23 meeting involving Steen’s request to recoup his money being held by the town regarding Marion Village Estates. Steen agreed to continue the Heron Cove public hearing to July 14.

            The next meeting of the Marion ZBA is scheduled for Thursday, June 23, at 6:30 pm.

Marion Zoning Board of Appeals

By Mick Colageo

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