The Chilmark planning board moved ahead this week with a proposed amendment to town zoning bylaws that would require all pools in the town be heated with renewable energy. After a discussion and public hearing on Monday the board unanimously voted to forward revised wording of a proposed bylaw to the town selectmen for placement on a special town meeting warrant. The meeting is set for Oct. 29.
On Sept. 10, the planning board opened a public hearing on the proposed bylaw. The original amendment would have required town pool owners to use solar thermal heating systems as the primary source of energy for heating pools. A number of pool builders and contractors attended the hearing to criticize the proposal. Since then, the town zoning board of appeals also weighed in, recommending adding language to the bylaw which would require an applicant to receive a special permit from the zoning board to install a supplemental water heating system to an existing pool.
This week the planning board attempted to address the concerns. They revised the wording of the amendment to include the use of geothermal or an alternative, nonpolluting system in addition to solar thermal. They also added the special permit language.
“What we’re presenting here is pretty simple,” said board member Tim Lasker. “If the voters don’t want that, then we need to start surveying people for what they do want because what we’re dealing with is a global issue.” The public hearing is still open and the board welcomes additional comment. The hearing will continue at the planning board’s next meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 9 in the town hall.