Voters approve Spring Street rezoning as Town Meeting winds down

May 16, 2018

Marion voters approved the rezoning of a parcel of land on Spring Street on May 15 that they had twice denied in previous town meetings, but refused a petition to create a historic house bylaw that would prevent demolition of a historic building for up to a year.

Marion's Planning Board asked voters to approve rezoning a parcel on Spring Street, currently owned by Sherman Briggs, from limited business to Residential Type E, which is suitable for condiminiums.

The project failed in previous years because residents balked at approving the rezone, mainly due to concerns about the town's aging wastewater treatment plant, but was passed by two-thirds majority on May 5.

"We need housing for those who want to downsize and for those with smaller households," said Planning Board Chair Eileen Marum. "We're asking for 3.55 acres to be rezoned. The location is walkable, close to amenities and the Village. Marion's Master Plan identified condos as a housing need, and this would be a good idea."

"I need to make clear," said Planning Board member Steve Kokkins, "this doesn’t propose any development per say. It is only a rezoning move. If a development proposal comes through, then the community will have ample opportunity to make their opinion heard in public hearings during the project's site plan review."

Residents expressed concern over a bottleneck in traffic along Spring Street, asking if it would be wise to put condos into an area so prone to traffic jams.

"Once again, this is just a rezone. There is no project happening tonight," Marum explained. "SRPEDD [Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Development District] is studying the roads. They're going to be looked at no matter what."

"I'm in favor of this," said Lee Vulgaris. "This is the perfect spot. When you propose a development everyone will be able to put in their input when that happens. This is a plus for the town, and we can solve all the other problems when something is proposed."

Voters chose not to approve a proposed bylaw put forth by the Sippican Historical Society and the Marion Historical Commission, which would have required owners of any houses over 75 years old to undergo a house review before the house was approved for demolition.

During the demolition delay, it would be up to the owner of the house or building to find another buyer or someone willing to invest in and maintain the house without tearing it down.

If no interested parties could be found in a year, demolition would have proceeded.

Residents said that while they liked the intent of the proposal, the way it was written infringed upon too many property owners' rights, and ultimately denied the motion. Several residents hoped that the request might come before town voters again in the future, with improvements regarding property owners rights.