The Wanderer

            The first Public Hearing for “The Cottages,” held on Monday night by the Marion Planning Board, was attended by several abutters to the 78 Wareham Road property that slopes down to the Weweantic River.
            With the attending support of engineering representatives, developer Matt Zuker presented his 48-unit, townhouse-style, market-rate, residential project on the southeast side of Route 6.
            Asked for a timeline to construction, Zuker smiled and noted that he has been at this project for over three years dating back to his first (failed) attempt at Town Meeting to get the approximately 30-acre parcel of land rezoned to Residence E (multi-family.) A subsequent attempt with an informational campaign succeeded.
            The public hearing lasted more than an hour and, as the first of multiple sessions, was continued to September 18 at 7:10 pm.
            “One of the goals of this is to kind of create a community,” said Zuker on Monday night. “The garages come out the side (of the houses), so we don’t drive down the street and just see a bunch of (two-car) garages.”
            Geared toward but not limited to the 55-and-over population, the development will consist of 36 detached homes and six “2-Townhome” buildings covering an average of 2,000-2,500 square feet.
            In negotiating the support of the Town of Marion, Zuker has committed $1,265,630 in one-time fees to upgrade the existing sewer system and Infiltration/Inflow (I/I) removal, $123,000 towards the new Creek Road pumping station, $3,700 to assess the force-main pipe, $80,000 in building-permit fees and $240,000 in water and sewer-connection fees.
            In addition to that $1,712,230 in one-time fees, Zuker has committed over $2,000,000 to other infrastructural improvements, including design and installation of a new sewer pump station and 1,700 linear feet of new sewer main pipes along Wareham Road (Route 6) to connect to the existing, 10-inch sewer main near Point Road.
            The plan will also extend sewer to the River Road Needs Area in concert with the town’s plan and install manholes and main stubs at intersections and service laterals for each fronted property. Portions of existing water mains in the area will be replaced to serve the greater need.
            Asked during his recent Presubmission Conference with the Planning Board regarding the lack of progress with the adjacent 120-unit, Heron Cove affordable-housing development, Zuker said he was prepared to “go it alone.”
            The intention, Zuker told an abutter attending Monday’s meeting, is that homeowners in that area of Route 6 will be able to connect to town sewer as a result.
            Most of the abutters attending Monday night in person at the Police Station were primarily focused on the ramifications for vehicular traffic, as that highway stretch of Route 6 remains a growing concern among residents due to excessive speed.
            The Planning Board will study the plan, provide feedback and ultimately vote to condition the project on the platform of four special permits, addressing the housing design relative to Marion’s guidelines, Zuker’s adherence to Marion’s Inclusionary Housing Bylaw (he will pay the fee in lieu of building affordable units), erosion control and a general special permit pending major site-plan review.
            Board members posed immediate questions.
            Andrew Daniel questions the openings at the mouth of the roads and emergency access. “I noticed this is different from your original plan, it looks much better,” he said.
            Dale Jones asked if Zuker has designated a place to move snow. The plan is to put snow on impervious areas, identify locations for snow storage, then for uncommon (very large) storms, truck the snow off the site. Daniel cautioned Zuker’s team to keep fire-hydrant locations in mind.
            Chairman Tucker Burr asked how many units will have walkout basements. Zuker said units close to the river and the row above them will have walk-out basements. Burr noted the addition of a finished basement significantly increases livable space. There are no plans to finish basements.
            Eileen Marum asked about pedestrian safety, sidewalk width and the potential for residents with physical challenges. She also asked if every tree removed will be replaced somewhere else on the site. Zuker noted that trees had already been removed from that property. He said his team will not clear-cut but work with the grade.
            Zuker said that a significant amount of clearing needs to take place. “Sometimes you move a house 5 feet to the right to save a tree. The goal is to plant more than we take down at the end of the day,” he said. “You try to cluster (the units) as much as you can to create buffers.”
            Alanna Nelson complimented Zuker on the plan to install electric cable and phone wires underground.
            Marum thanked Zuker for taking the environment and climate change into consideration.
            Zuker’s presentation asserts that The Cottages development will also generate over $1,300,000 in annual fiscal benefits to Marion in the form of gross-tax revenues of approximately $496,035 (net fiscal benefit of over $350,000) and approximately $1,040,509 in local retail spending.
            The slope down to the Weweantic River was central to Zuker’s Environmental Assessment. “We tried to wind our road to work with that grade,” he said. “The site’s not in any areas where there is habitat or any endangered species. … We’re not going in … to the riverfront or any sensitive areas.”
            The project will file with the Conservation Commission with the intent of landscaping and planting of native species “as much as possible.” The Box Turtle habitat will also be addressed; Zuker said his team is working on a place for a sanctuary or nesting and will involve participation of the schools.
            Town Planner Doug Guey-Lee said the board is waiting on comments from the Department of Public Works and peer review. He asked if Zuker’s team can draft a covenant for the Homeowners Association.
            In a second public hearing of the night, Tabor Academy received five approving votes for its plan to replace a natural athletic field near Spring Street with synthetic turf. Soccer and field hockey are played on the field.
            Five members voted in favor with Daniel abstaining because he felt the project was being rushed through the vetting process.
            Rich Riccio of Field Engineering explained that the plan to remove existing topsoil and install an absorbing stone bed under the field will decrease the amount of stormwater runoff.
            The board approved an Approval Not Required conveyance of a 1,650 square-foot parcel of land by applicants Caleb and Kely Hudak, 62 Water Street, to their northern neighbors to straighten the property line. There was no change to lot frontage. A variance had already been granted by the Marion Zoning Board of Appeals. Marum publicly thanked the ZBA for “doing a great job” on the case.
            According to Burr, the discussion of the Aquifer Protection District Bylaw was on Monday night’s agenda only to keep it on the board’s radar for the Annual Town Meeting in the spring.
            The board made no comment on the request by the Zoning Board of Appeals to comment on the case involving Elizabeth and Christopher Karvonen, 56 East Avenue.
            The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is scheduled for Tuesday, September 5, at 7:00 pm at the Police Station.
Marion Planning Board
By Mick Colageo

Categories: News