Affordable housing took center stage in West Tisbury Tuesday night as voters completed their annual town meeting that began two weeks ago.

Voters spent most of two hours debating four of the seven remaining warrant articles, including two relating to what kinds of accessory units can be built on substandard lots. In the end all seven articles were approved.

Moderator Dan Waters, new to the job this year. — Mark Lovewell

By a vote of 160-19, voters agreed to amend town zoning bylaws to increase the size of accessory apartments allowed by special permit from 500 to 800 square feet, provided they are used for affordable year-round rental housing or to help elderly residents stay in their homes. The revised bylaw included a much-debated floor amendment that will allow homeowners to build freestanding units for the purpose as well as adding onto existing buildings.

“I think we all know that affordable housing is the biggest issue on the island right now,” said Eileen Maley, who spoke in support of the change. “We need to make more opportunities available. I think that’s the bottom line.”

After a first attempt to complete the annual town meeting failed for lack of a quorum on April 15, moderator Dan Waters looked out over the nearly 200 voters gathered in the West Tisbury school gymnasium and declared the meeting reconvened.

He began by leading voters in singing happy birthday to the town, which was celebrating the 123rd anniversary of its founding.

The first order of business, to require residents to post map and lot numbers as well as street addresses prominently on buildings, drew immediate debate.

Police chief Dan Rossi. — Mark Lovewell

Town officials said the article was designed for public safety to improve the ability of emergency personnel to identify houses, but residents objected to the proliferation of signs and the effect on privacy. After amendments that will require the signs on lots, not buildings, the article passed.

Voters also approved by the needed two-thirds majority an article designating four ancient roads — Pine Hill Road, Red Coat Hill Road/Motts Hill Road, Shubael Weeks Road and Old Coach Road — as special ways. The designation, for historic and aesthetic reasons, affords the roads special protection against future development.

The longest discussion centered on the zoning bylaw changes, with proponents arguing that the town needs to allow increased density to address an increasing need for affordable housing for year-round residents.

Tucker Hubbell, chairman of the zoning board of appeals, noted that the town has had a bylaw permitting year-round residents to build accessory apartments by special permit since 2000. Since then, about 45 permits have been granted, he said.

Currently, accessory apartments are only allowed if attached to an existing building, but under a floor amendment successfully offered by Marc Rosenbaum, residents could also seek permits for free-standing units. Mr. Rosenbaum said the current bylaw encourages apartments over garages and barns, whereas elderly people are more likely to need first-floor living space.

Architect Kate Warner sounded a note of caution. “I’m not necessarily opposed to this,” she said. “But I think issues like this that will substantially change the density of our town need to be discussed at greater length.”