Marion Bylaw Codification Committee tackles the minor stuff first

Sep 19, 2019

MARION — Marion switched over to a new set of bylaws in 2016, and ever since the Bylaw Codification Committee has been playing, well, not catch up, but clean up.

The group’s Chairman, Norm Hills says that most of the changes that the group has tackled so far have been minor, but should help to remove confusion for residents.

Later in the process, Hills said, “there are sections that will need major surgery.”

The group hired a consultant, General Code, which found 280 things that were unclear, contradictory or simply not in the right place.

It turns out that the town has two bylaws on how many abandoned cars residents are allowed to have, both with different numbers. The committee decided that owners can have only two unregistered vehicles on their property.

Other things weren’t contradictory, but were town common knowledge that had never been formally written down. For example, the Department of Public Works always connects residents to the town water mains. But that had was not included in the bylaws.

Some of the work is removing exact duplicates. In one section of the bylaws, the committee was able to remove a 12 page section because it was presented verbatim in the water regulations.

The 2016 change also brought about some numbering confusion, and in some cases the new bylaws refer to sections that no longer exist, or to a state document that no longer exists.

The bylaw codification committee also works with Building Commissioner Scott Shippey to ask if a bylaw “clearly defines something so that you can make a decision?”

Town Counsel also helps to check and fine tune the changes.

The committee then has to send the changes to the Attorney General, who may strike something, hold a public hearing on any changes and have them approved at Town Meeting

Other changes that will appear before this fall’s Town Meeting include changing the term for Zoning Board of Appeals members from five years to three and staggering when terms expire and changing  the rules for corner lots so that sheds, fences or hedges do not block visibility for drivers.

The public hearing on the bylaw changes that will appear at Fall Town Meeting will be Monday, Oct. 7 at 7:20 p.m at the Town House.