Tempers flare over Patrick's Candy Pantry

By Tanner Harding | Oct 03, 2017
Photo by: Tanner Harding The ice cream truck as it currently sits in The Ropewalk parking lot.

Marion — A heated debate between board members broke out during the Planning Board’s discussion about Patrick’s Candy Pantry on Monday night.

Patrick’s Candy Pantry, located inside Rooney’s Barbershop on Route 6 at the Spring Street intersection, was developed by summer resident Brian Kelly for his 19-year-old son Patrick, who has autism, to gain work experience and meet new people.

The candy shop has run into problems before.

Patrick Kelly had initially planned only to sell packaged candy, but later, officials learned of the family’s plans for the ice cream truck and outdoor seating. That triggered the need for the Kellys to secure a special permit through the town – a permit for which the Kellys did not apply.

Without the proper permit, Building Commissioner Scott Shippey was forced to issue a cease-and-desist order days before Kelly's planned June 14 opening.

To get the special permit the Kellys had to go through another public hearing, which was scheduled for July 10. At that meeting, the special permit was issued with the caveat that barbershop owner Rob Rooney spoke to Lynn Read, the attorney for the state’s Board of Registration of Cosmetology and Barbering, about the floor plan. The next day, Rooney spoke to Read and Patrick was ready to sell candy and pre-packaged ice cream from within the store.

Meanwhile, the Good Humor vintage ice cream truck has been parked at The Ropewalk in Mattapoisett since the original cease-and-desist was ordered. Now, Patrick wants to move the truck to the Rooney’s location.

Planning Board Chair Eileen Marum is firmly against moving the truck to Marion.

She cited her fear that the Kellys would be back in front of the board at a later date asking to sell ice cream from the truck, something they are not currently requesting to do.

“When you look at the pattern of how this business has evolved, it’s been disturbing and I have a trust issue with it,” she said. “They’re using the backdoor approach the whole time, that’s what I find troubling…It’s not a stretch to think they’ll want to sell ice cream.”

However, Collings again disagreed, demanding to know the specific problem with that.

“I don’t understand what looks like an excessively specific, punitive approach here,” he said. “There’s no reason whatsoever we can’t vote this through now. We have the tools in this town to make sure if he wants to sell ice cream later he can do that, and it’s none of your damn business to think…he’s trying to hoodwink the entire world.”

Marum, however, maintained that her concern was safety.

“My issue is safety,” she said. “Business should provide safety.”

Marum noted the rapid arrival and departure of cars in the parking lot, something she said was in the nature of the businesses. “It increases the likelihood of an accident. The plan submitted was lacking an adequate plan for safety.”

The plan outlines a potential spot for the truck on the Route 6 side of the parking lot. The truck would not be located in a parking spot, but in the area next to the picnic tables. One of Marum’s main concerns was the proximity of the truck to parking spots and the truck’s attraction to children.

“What if a car accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the break?” Marum asked, adding that the only thing between a car and a person would be the cement parking blocks and low shrubs.

However, other board members were less concerned by the prospect of the truck relocating to Marion.

“I do think we need to be responsible, but I’ve spent a lot of time looking at this site and don’t think there’s any imminent danger there,” board member Will Saltonstall said. “There are comparable sites up and down Route 6.”

Board member Norm Hills agreed that he wasn’t overly concerned with safety becoming an issue, but did suggest bollards in parking spaces would provide more of a defense against an errant car.

Marum had an ally in board member Steve Kokkins, who thought the truck would act as obvious signage that hadn’t been approved as well as a distraction for drivers turning into the parking lot from Route 6.

“One of the problems with the plan is with the parking spaces that enter directly off of Route 6,
 Kokkins said. “It’s going to be hazardous…I personally don’t favor it.”

Chris Collings, who has been an outspoken proponent of Patrick’s from the beginning, said that parking the truck there would be no different than any other business having a truck with their logo on the side parked in their lot overnight. He also accused Marum of being overly specific with the project.

“Banishment of that truck is excessive specificity,” Collings said. “We have to be a whole lot more careful about the conditions we apply to create a healthy business environment.”

The board discussed a possibility of a traffic study, but most of the board was against it.

“A traffic study is way over the scale and scope of this whole endeavor,” Kokkins said. “If we can come up with some way of not having a parked vehicle serve as a sign, I’d be happy.”

Ultimately, the board will have to wait to have another public hearing to approve the modification of the special permit.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Chris Collings | Oct 04, 2017 18:50

another black eye for the Marion Planning Board.





Posted by: Eileen Jean Marum | Oct 05, 2017 10:39

In carrying out its administrative duties (applying Marion’s bylaws), the Planning Board considers seriously issues of public safety, public interest and the public welfare of all residents.

And, public safety is at the core of the Candy Pantry and its location at the busy intersection of Spring Street and Route 6. The site is compressed, everything is packed in: barbershop, candy pantry, parking spaces, space allocated for vehicular maneuverability, green space, shrubs, dumpster, motor vehicles, and picnic tables with umbrellas.

Because of the type of businesses, barbershop and candy store, the parking lot experiences a rapid turnover of motor vehicles increasing the chance of driver error, that is, accelerating into the parking lot from route 6 and possibly overshooting the gravel parking area, which offers poor to no tire traction, and striking the exposed and unprotected picnic tables potentially injuring those sitting at tables. Also, one must consider driver error, that is, confusing the brake pedal and accelerator pedal, and those low cement stops at the front of parking spaces and the thin line of low shrubbery offer scant protection against an out of control vehicle.

As a reminder, on Front Street, not too far from Rooney’s Barbershop, a construction project is ongoing repairing front porch damage caused by an out of control vehicle that crashed into the house causing substantial property damage, fortunately no one was on the porch at the time of the collision. Being proactive, on July 3, 2017, I asked for a traffic and circulation plan that would ensure customer safety in the parking lot and at the picnic table, more than 85 days later no traffic and circulation plan ensuring customer safety has been produced. I am not in favor of gambling with peoples lives. Safety should be part of customer service.

Eileen Marum

Chairman, Marion Planning Board

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