MARION – With a vote to approve a revised restoration plan for damaged wetlands at Marion Golf Club, the Marion Conservation Commission has ended a months-long dispute with the club.
On June 9, the commission issued an enforceable title against the Marion Golf Club, who the club have called ‘invalid’ in an ongoing civil lawsuit. The order asked the club to restore and rename two wetlands that were damaged during approved forestry work earlier this year.
The revised plan, presented by Brian Madden, a scientist with LEC Environmental Consultants, a company engaged by the club, addressed the concerns raised by the commission at a meeting on September 14.
In the revised plan, areas needing restoration have been expanded and nine cedar posts that line the boundary of the protected wetland have been marked. Each post will have a sign reading “Marion Conservation Commission, Protected Area”.
According to Madden, the signs would “physically demarcate no-mowing areas and make all future mowing activities perfectly clear.”
The plan also outlines a two-year restoration and monitoring schedule to ensure damaged areas regrow properly.
During the meeting, Michael Kane and Will Fulton, two of the club’s owners, raised questions about how the Conservation Commission handled the enforcement order against the club.
Fulton accused Shaun Walsh, a member of the conservation commission, of trespassing on club property.
“I want to know, Shawn, how many times during this debacle have you trespassed on our property to get information to send to the Conservation Commission to set up this case?” asked Fulton.
Alex Weisheit, an attorney who represented the commission at the meeting, advised Walsh not to respond.
In its civil lawsuit, the club claims that Marion’s Retention Commission violated the club’s Fourth Amendment right to protection from unlawful search and seizure when members allegedly visited the facility unannounced.
Later in the meeting, Kane said the wrong party was named in the execution order. The enforcement order states that the Marion Golf Club is the owner of the land, which the club disputes. The club says the owner is the Marion Harbor East Trust.
Kane also said the club intended to eradicate an invasive plant species when cleaning up the protected area. Jeff Doubrava, chairman of the Conservation Commission, said the club should have presented a plan to the commission before clearcutting the area.
According to Doubrava, the execution order will be withdrawn once the commission sees evidence of restoration.
“You are going to do the things that are in the restoration plan, and provided the area is restored, we will issue the execution order,” Doubrava said.
Marion Town Administrator James McGrail did not provide an update on the status of the trial as of September 29.