Zuker Plans to Improve His Pitch

            Developer Matt Zuker hopes that voters at Marion’s May 9 Spring Town Meeting will respond more favorably than they did last year when they voted down his application for a zoning change that would have allowed him to pursue construction of a multifamily, residential development on Route 6 next to the much larger Heron Cove project planned by Ken Steen.

            The plan, said Zuker, has not changed.

            His regret from 2021 lies in the emphasis on construction details at the expense of a more thorough presentation of the proposal’s impacts to the town.

            “It was a little bit rushed,” said Zuker, who was invited to informally discuss his plans with the Marion Planning Board at its public meeting on Tuesday night. “We made a decision as a group to do our best, a better job, at presenting the information …”

            That will at least entail finalizing sewer capacity, coming up with the infiltration and inflow (I/I) and connection fees so crucial to keeping rate payers in town.

            In March, said Zuker, there will be three informational sessions for community outreach. He suggested they be held at the Music Hall. One would be held on a weekday, one on a weeknight and the other on a Saturday.

            He said he wants to make sure the town has the correct information and “at least get the facts out there.”

            Zuker’s selling point has been market-rate housing for a variety of situations including and majoring on seniors looking to downsize and stay in Marion. His group signed a deed restriction limiting the development to his initial plan, which is far below what current zoning would allow.

            Besides size, the fundamental difference between Zuker’s project and the adjacent 40B project planned by Steen is Zuker’s development would have property owners, whereas Steen’s project is entirely rentals.

            Where Steen’s application is with the state and the Marion Zoning Board of Appeals, Zuker, should he get his desired zoning change, would formally seek a special permit before the Planning Board.

            The Town of Marion has much more vetting mechanisms in the case of a market-rate housing project.

            “We know we could go back to underlying zoning there, but we just feel that this is better for the town,” said Zuker, who has tweaked his site plan based on communication with Fire Chief Brian Jackvony.

            Planning Board member Norm Hills brought up the news that the Wareham bridge will be rebuilt. Referencing the 25 percent plan, Hills told Zuker about mixed-use lanes on both sides of the bridge and apparent plans to reroute the bike path along Route 6 instead of County Street.

            Asked about recreational uses by Planning Board member Alanna Nelson, Zuker said he is looking at possibilities including the rising interest in pickleball courts and said he would like to add some walking trails.

            Planning Board member Chris Collings estimates two years of bridge construction. “I will say on the record that your plan is excellent, and I was disappointed that it didn’t carry (at 2021 Town Meeting,)” said Collings.

            “It’s a big disadvantage without knowing what Mr. Steen’s project looks like next door,” said Planning Board member Jon Henry, who said he can better judge either when he sees “the whole enchilada.”

            “We’ve been following up on that,” said Zuker. “We’re just as interested as you are.”

            Planning Board Chairman Will Saltonstall said, “It’s going to be impossible to sell this zoning change to the public without being able to speak to the town about (both projects.)”

            Later in the meeting when faced with the ZBA’s request for comment on Steen’s many waiver requests, Saltonstall recommended the Planning Board request a site plan on the 40B project.

            Taking the opportunity to comment on the Heron Cove project in response to the ZBA’s request, Planning Board member Eileen Marum noted that the list of requested waivers includes some related to erosion damage, sedimentation and stormwater. She suggested the ZBA require a performance bond in accordance with Section 238.11a and 238.11c of the bylaws and “really pay attention to what’s going on with the water.”

            Saltonstall noted that just as the Planning Board hires out peer review at applicants’ expense, the ZBA will likely have professionals represent the town in this process. “This is not going to be a one-and-done with the Zoning Board,” he said. “Even though this isn’t our charge, I feel personally like this is a project we need to have our nose in.”

            A warrant article approving the 230-8.2 Water Protection District was passed over at last Town Meeting in 2021 after John Rockwell pointed out that the Water Protection District was not accurately portrayed on the zoning map. There is also a backlog of changes to the Zoning map that will come before voters at the Fall Town Meeting.

            The Water Protection District is exponentially larger on the updated Zoning Map. A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for March 21.

            Nelson told the board that the town’s Community Preservation Committee has continued deliberation to its Friday, March 4 meeting where the committee will vote on $650,000 in applications.

            The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is scheduled for Monday, March 7, at 7:00pm.

Marion Planning Board

By Mick Colageo

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