This time with a quorum, Edgartown voters at a special town meeting Tuesday night agreed to allocate money for an appraisal of the Capt. Warren House and approved the conversion of silos at Katama Farm into cell towers.
A total of 168 voters attended the special session. The meeting was rescheduled from last week after falling 20 voters shy of a quorum. Moderator Philip J. Norton Jr. presided over the 15-article warrant.
All articles were approved.
Voters agreed to spend $10,000 on real estate appraisals and engineering drawings for the historic Warren House on North Water street. The vote is the first step in the potential sale of the property. The article also permits the library building design committee to develop a plan to sell all or part of the property.
The town bought the house in 2005 for $3.5 million with the intention of using it as a library annex for the abutting Carnegie Building. New plans for the library now call for using the old Edgartown School and do not include the Warren House. One option being considered by the committee is to sell the house and keep the parking lot area in the back that is currently used for library parking spaces.
No new money was spent on the appraisal. Voters approved $300,000 at the April 2010 annual town meeting for the new design plan; $83,000 remains.
Selectman and board chairman Arthur Smadbeck assured voters the appraisal would be used as a planning tool and was not a commitment to sell the property.
“Part of the planning process has to be appraisals; otherwise we wouldn’t be able to bring anything to the annual town meeting,” he said. “We’re in the middle of planning for the new library and all the plans will be brought to town in April hopefully and we will have a chance to vote on all these things at that time.”
Former library trustee Pat Rose thought otherwise.
“I think this is premature,” Ms. Rose said. “I think until we have a new library firmly settled in concrete and the deal is completely done it’s premature to decide what to do about the Warren House.”
Peter Look made a motion to amend the article and strike the words “to sell all or a portion thereof,” but the amendment failed and the article carried.
Voters also backed a plan to house cell phone antennas inside the old silos at Katama Farm. The article authorizes the selectmen to issue a request for proposals to wireless providers. The new antennas would be located inside the silos; part of the antenna may be visible on top.
The antennas are expected to boost cell phone coverage in Katama and parts of Chappaquiddick. A special permit and public hearing process still lies ahead.
The town estimates the towers will generate between $25,000 and $50,000 per antenna annually. The money will go into the general fund.
Questions were raised as to whose insurance policy the antennas would fall under and could there be a provision to insulate the carrier so there was not a constant hum from the equipment. All the concerns can be included in the RFP.
Town administrator Pam Dolby said the antennas will also help prevent the installation of antennas on private property.
“We’re trying to have the town do this as opposed to private businesses coming in to do that themselves. That’s the reason it’s here and can’t wait,” she said.
Mr. Look moved to indefinitely postpone the article but had no second.
The vote to approve was 164 to 4.
Voters agreed to spend $10,000 to assist in tax title takings, of which there have been three in Edgartown this year alone.
Mrs. Dolby said over the last year the town took 12 properties for nonpayment of taxes.
“It’s a significant number because of the economy, that’s the cause of it,” Mrs. Dolby said.
Voters also approved:
• $40,000 for a new air compressor for the fire department.
• $20,000 in community preservation funds for interpretive plaques for the Edgartown Fire Museum.
• $28,900 to reimburse the police department for a retired officer.
• A zoning bylaw amendment removing a restriction that prohibited outdoor staircases on elevated decks and porches. The staircases will now be allowed, per recommendation of the fire department.