In the wake of a budding plan by the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School to build a 220-foot wind turbine in West Tisbury, the town must develop additional regulations — and quickly — for windmills in town, selectman Richard Knabel said this week.
“At the moment, our building zoning inspector must grant a building permit by right if an applicant can locate a tower with sufficient setbacks from property lines and water supplies,” Mr. Knabel said at the weekly selectmen’s meeting Wednesday, reading from a June 3 letter he wrote to the town planning board.
The charter school has received a grant from the state to study feasibility for a wind turbine on its site.
Mr. Knabel told selectmen that under its current bylaws the town cannot limit the size or number of turbines in town.
Mr. Knabel said he became aware of the charter school plan accidentally and wanted to alert selectmen and the planning board of the need for quick action.
His comments came during a two and a half hour meeting with a packed agenda, marked by heated debate among selectmen about their role in managing the work of town committees.
The debate occurred during a review of 10 suggested guidelines for use by town committees written by Mr. Knabel.
Selectmen eventually agreed on several of the guidelines, including the need for written purposes and goals, an annual report by each committee for the town report and the right of committee to choose its leadership. Selectmen asked executive secretary Jennifer Rand to rework language in several other guidelines for review on June 11.
Mr. Knabel and selectmen Dianne Powers clashed over the degree of oversight selectmen should exercise over committees.
Mr. Knabel suggested committees report to selectmen on a schedule and he suggested term limits for standing committee members.
Ms. Powers disagreed. “We should ask committees to meet with us, not require them to. These people are volunteers. Maybe we should go to some of their meetings,” she said.
“These [guidelines] are not intended to be punitive. I believe this is what the voters expect us to do,” Mr. Knabel replied.
In other business Wednesday selectmen also voted, following a public hearing, to support a plan to site a 25-acre mussel aquaculture farm in town waters about a mile off Paul’s Point.
Rick Karney, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, presented the plan which calls for creating aquaculture zones in Chilmark, West Tisbury and Aquinnah.
Chilmark selectmen held a similar hearing this week and Aquinnah will hold a hearing on June 17.
Mr. Karney and West Tisbury shellfish constable Tom Osmers said aquaculture farm testing at the University of New Hampshire have produced promising results.
• Voted to appoint John S. Christensen as director of emergency management.
• Agreed to delay road repairs on North Road until the fall to allow time to pursue a state grant that would cover 70 per cent of the $300,000 estimated cost. Voters approved $200,000 at the annual town meeting for the repairs.
• Set a meeting with conservation commission chairman Prudy Burt for June 11 to discuss the issue of landscaping companies taking water from the Mill Brook. Ms. Burt wants to prohibit the practice.
• Voted to authorize Bea Phear, chairman of the town hall renovation committee, to begin negotiations with Michael Josefek, a New Bedford contractor and architect, to become project manager and clerk of the works for the town hall renovation project. He would succeed Jamie Doyle in the position. Ten applications for the post were received and four candidates were interviewed before the committee made its selection, Mrs. Phear said.