Medical marijuana dispensaries could become a reality in Oak Bluffs and Tisbury after an effort to place a one-year moratorium on the dispensaries failed to win the backing of voters on Tuesday night. And the countywide pest control program is also in a state of uncertainty after voters in West Tisbury turned down their share of funding for the program.
Medical marijuana questions were on the warrants for three of four town meetings held Tuesday night. The outcome was slightly different in each town.
Edgartown voters said yes to the one-year moratorium on dispensaries but balked at a bylaw to prohibit public consumption of marijuana.
In Tisbury the outcome was the opposite: the moratorium failed to achieve a two-thirds majority but the public consumption bylaw was approved. In Oak Bluffs the dispensary moratorium narrowly failed to achieve a necessary two-third majority, while the public consumption bylaw was approved.
Three of the four town meetings finished in one night. Tisbury voters were in for a long haul, spending the first two hours alone on a special town meeting warrant and later approving a $900,000 plan to expand the town wastewater plant. The meeting recessed at 10:35 p.m. after disposing of nine articles on the annual warrant, and resumes tonight at 7 p.m. in the Tisbury School gymnasium.
In Oak Bluffs voters agreed to spend nearly half a million dollars on a fuel dock and approved a $25.5 million operating budget for the coming fiscal year. They agreed to spend a town share for early design work on a new building for the superintendent of Vineyard schools, but defeated a plan to buy a small strip of land off Circuit avenue and turn it into a park.
A $975,000 spending package for road and sidewalk repairs was also approved, pending the outcome of an override ballot question Thursday. The meeting concluded in one night just after 10:30 p.m. Attendance was 208.
In the last article on the warrant, voters backed the concept of turning the controversial Monster Shark Tournament into a catch-and-release contest. "It's not about fishing, it's about us as a culture," Peggy McGrath said, saying she couldn't take her young granddaughter to the harbor during the tournament weekend. "I would like my town back." The vote was 64-50.
The nonbinding question will come before voters again at the annual town election Thursday.
In West Tisbury poet laureate Justen Ahren set the tone for the meeting with a poem inspired by the Mill Pond. And then voters agreed to spend $2.495 million on a new police station and approved a $14.7 million annual town operating budget.
"I think it's time. The town has grown, the police department has grown, we are in need of a new police station and having a true public safety facility in town of West Tisbury," police chief Dan Rossi told voters. His sergeant, Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd, who is also a town selectman, had another view and argued against the new facility.
"I'm most uncomfortable with the outside appearance — it just does not say West Tisbury," Mr. Manter said. "I think we can do better."
Turnout was light in West Tisbury this year with 156 voters attending. The meeting finished just after 9 p.m.
Voters also agreed to spend $15,000 on a watershed study for the Mill Pond and approved a package of spending on affordable housing initiatives. But the agreeable mood stopped when it came to the town share for a countywide pest management program and also a project to replace windows in the county courthouse.
"I would object to funding anything at the county level at this stage until they get their house in order," said Doug Ruskin, speaking on the pest management article.
Both questions were defeated.
In Edgartown about 200 voters gathered in the newly-repainted historic church and approved 68 special and annual town meeting articles, including every spending article, in less than two hours. Voters agreed without dissent to take ownership of the Edgartown Light at no cost and also to spend $40,000 on the Fourth of July fireworks display. They approved appropriations of $634,000 for two new fire trucks and $900,000 to repaint and restore the Katama water tower, but both measures still need approval in the ballot box Thursday.
Edgartown also approved a new bylaw requiring owners of buildings in the historic district to keep them well maintained.
Moderator Philip J. Norton Jr. opened the meeting with a nod to Margot Datz, the artist who recently completed an intricate trompe l'oeil mural in the church. "Margot did a good job, didn't she?" he said, to a round of applause. The appreciative crowd also cheered poet laureate Steve Ewing, who delivered a tribute to Edgartown families past and present with a poem called "Marks."
Reporting by Remy Tumin, Sara Brown, Ivy Ashe and Jane Seagrave.