Try, Try Again in Aquinnah

The energy district of critical planning concern in Aquinnah is a forward-thinking concept, but the bylaw that came before voters at the final session of the annual town meeting last week needs more work and fine-tuning.

Although planning board member Peter Temple by all accounts did an eloquent job of presenting the bylaw, questions surfaced on the town meeting floor which show that it needs some adjusting. To begin with, it is too long and freighted with too much bureaucratic language. And in addition to wanting for clarity, the bylaw needs some reframing and review with a fresh set of eyes. For example, a provision requiring home energy audits for anyone doing even a minor addition on a house did not sit well with many voters, including a group of independently minded Gay Headers.

Maybe they are right. Maybe this is government gone one step too far.

Aquinnah deserves nothing but praise for its townwide district of critical planning concern, and as the Martha’s Vineyard Commission took pains to note when it designated the special townwide energy district last year, the district is possibly a model for the entire Island.

Town leaders who drafted the bylaw should stay on track and go back to the drawing board — quickly. The energy district of critical planning concern is worth saving, and it is worth the inconvenience to have a building moratorium in place for just a few more weeks.

Aquinnah voters — who fell four votes short of approving the bylaw — would no doubt agree.