Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The Chilmark planning board proposes 3,500 square feet as a reasonable house size maximum since it is 60 per cent higher than the Chilmark average of 2,200 square feet. This might make sense if the 2,200 square foot average is reasonable. But it is not reasonable because 2,200 presumably includes all kinds of homes, home sizes and home uses built over many decades which may not be relevant now.
It makes more sense to look at the average size of homes sold and permits issued for new homes for a meaningful period such as 15 years. The average home size for the 135 Chilmark properties sold since 1998 is 3,100 square feet. The average is 3,300 square feet for the 122 house permits for the same period. The average of sales and permits is 3,200 square feet which is only nine per cent less than the proposed 3,500 square foot limit. Presumably, no one would advocate a maximum just slightly over the average. Sixty per cent over 3,200 is 5,200 square feet which is a more sensible limit if the town decides to have one.
The house size debate arose because of a dispute between neighbors. A dispute between neighbors should not trigger a town debate unless there is a town problem. Where is the problem? I asked this question to many friends and neighbors including some supportive of the planning board proposal. No one could point to any large unsightly houses visible from our main roads and few if any from our ponds. Why target these homeowners when there is no problem, especially when this group is generally so supportive of local businesses, taxes and charitable organizations. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
Robert Kenney, Chilmark