Acting with dispatch, Chilmark voters at a special town meeting Monday night amended zoning bylaws, approved design money for a building on the Menemsha harborfront, endorsed a complicated conservation land swap and paid some miscellaneous bills.
Gathering at the Chilmark Community Center and led by moderator Everett H. Poole, voters first took up an amendment to town zoning bylaws that will require heated swimming pools to draw their warmth from solar thermal, geothermal or an alternative nonpolluting system. Proposed by the town planning board, the amendment also will require a special permit to install a pool heating system.
Jay Lagemann, a pool owner, was the lone voice of dissent. “I find it hard not to be mad,” he said. “You are doing this by picking on a few people who have pools. I don’t think heating a pool is a bad thing. We are not attacking people who heat their homes all winter.”
But planning board member Tim Lasker said the new bylaw is a first step in a concerted effort by his board to promote energy conservation in town. The amendment passed easily with a two thirds vote.
Voters next heard a request from town selectmen for $1,000 to pay for design drawings for a multi-purpose building to replace the harbor master shack in Menemsha. But first selectman and board chairman Warren Doty proposed an amendment, sparked in part by an earlier offer from Louis S. Larsen Jr. to sell the town a fish shack he owns on the harbor. The amendment, which included language that would allow for alterations to Mr. Larsen’s building, passed unanimously, along with the main article.
Voters also unanimously approved requests for money to repair docks in Menemsha, the Squibnocket Beach parking lot, portions of North Road, the Chilmark Community Center, the Cross Road fire station and the police station.
They also gave approval for a complicated land swap between the town, the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank and the Hillman family, longtime summer residents of Chilmark.
The Hillmans plan to donate ten acres near South Road to the town; six of the ten acres will be owned by the land bank and the middle of the parcel will be carved into four one-acre affordable homesites owned by the town. In exchange, the Hillmans will take ownership of the former Hollis Burton Engley house, currently owned by the town.
Judith Jardin voiced concern over a part of the agreement which allows the Hillman family to select from among qualified applicants the four families to receive the affordable housing lots. “In my heart and in my gut, we’re talking about a subjective decision,” she said. But Andy Goldman, a member of the town housing committee, said the Hillmans were less interested in the identity of the applicants than in ensuring Chilmark residents be able to continue to live in the town affordably.
Arlan Wise, the closest abutter to the lots on the west side, and her son Julian both voiced support for the project. “We approve this because affordable housing is really important,” Ms. Wise said. Mr. Wise added: “I was very lucky in the past year to be able to build a home on my property because that was an option. I realize that for many, this is not an option.” Christopher Murphy also expressed support for the plan. “This is not just a win, win, win,” he said. “The winning goes on into the future.”
The land swap required three separate votes: one to authorize selectmen to proceed with negotiations, one allowing them to take the plan to the state legislature and a third to provide $45,000 to cover the costs of surveying and installing septic systems and wells on the four housing lots. All three passed unanimously. Following the meeting, selectman Frank Fenner praised voters. “I am just very pleased with the support the town shows for affordable housing,” he said. “We need it and this just shows the town supports it.”