Marion Town Meeting delays decision on private road acceptance

May 10, 2022

MARION — Marion Town Meeting voters agreed Monday, May 9 to postpone a decision on whether to accept Fieldstone Lane and Village Drive as public streets. 

Residents of the area were requesting the roads become public ways, allowing for town plowing and other services.

“I just want to be part of this town,’’ said Fieldstone Lane resident Adam Lambert. “I pay taxes’’ just like all other residents, he said.

Neighbors noted that, since the project is only about three years old, the roads are “among the newest and strongest in town,’’ according to printed material presented prior to the meeting.

But members of the Finance Committee and Select Board have opposed the move, raising questions about the construction of the road.

One major problem with the road, Town Manager Jay McGrail said, was the “hammerhead’’ layout, which includes a T-shaped dead end that serves as a turnaround.

At a previous meeting Public Works director Nathaniel Munafo said this turnaround features a dangerous drop on three sides.

The road is also much longer than the town permits for a dead end, officials have said. 

McGrail has noted that the town was in court with the developer, Steen Realty, for years over some of these issues. But the development fell under Chapter 40B, a state statute that allows flexibility in town regulations for affordable housing.

But an even bigger issue, he said at Monday’s Town Meeting, is who would be responsible for a sewer pumping station and utilities in the development. 

“There’s not a real understanding of what we’re accepting,’’ he said. 

Resident Ed Hoffer said he was “sympathetic’’ to the residents but moved to table the issue, which will postpone it until a further, unknown date.

This delay, he said, would allow the request to be “rewritten to address the issues’’ being questioned.

By a two-third margin, as required for tabling issues, voters agreed to postpone a vote. 

There was a light-hearted moment amid the discussion, when, after 121 voters approved the delay and 50 rejected it, Town Moderator Brad Gordon said the vote did not reach the two-thirds threshold needed to approve the delay.

A moment or so later, Finance Committee member Peter Winters noted that in fact, the vote did clear the two-thirds margin.

Gordon apologized and noted that he is not a mathematician. “I’m an attorney,’’ he said to the laughter of voters.