News in Brief
State housing board finds for Cozy Hearth project
The Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee (MHAC) this week overturned a decision by the Edgartown zoning board of appeals that scaled back the Cozy Hearth affordable housing project.
In May 2006 the ZBA voted to eliminate two houses from the proposed 11-house subdivision and added several conditions limiting the right of the homeowners to rent their property or build garages.
The Cozy Hearth project is unusual in that it is a self-funded initiative by Bill Bennett, an electrical contractor and some of his employees, friends, and family to build their own affordable housing. In 2002, the group purchased 11 acres off Watcha Path Road in Edgartown in an area zoned for three-acre lots. The plan hinged on subdividing the acreage into 11 one-acre lots for 11 houses under the terms of Chapter 40B, a state statute that helps developers bypass local zoning restrictions to encourage affordable housing.
If a 40B application is rejected at the town level, a developer may turn to the housing appeals committee for relief.
In their 24-page decision issued April 14, the appeals committee said that the elimination of the two houses would make the project uneconomic and did not find that two houses affected road safety.
At the time of the ZBA decision, Mr. Bennett said that the ZBA decision could kill the project by making it unaffordable for the very people it was designed to help. He said that after four years he was not going to quit and appealed to the MHAC.
Late yesterday, Cozy Hearth attorney Marcia Cini said the development is a good example of people getting together to create affordable housing, without asking for any contribution in tax dollars. "They are only asking permission to do something sensible," she said.
In a telephone conversation late yesterday, Martin "Skip" Tomassian, ZBA chairman, said the housing committee decision made no sense. He said it was based on the argument that the ZBA decision made a project that was not economic, less economic. He said an appeal is possible.
Margaret Serpa re-elected in Edgartown
A total of 915 Edgartown voters, or 31 percent of the town's 2,977 registered voters, went to the polls last Thursday.
Incumbent Margaret Serpa fended off a challenge from political newcomer Robert Fynbo to win a fourth term on the board of selectmen. The vote was 504-397.
Ms. Serpa told The Times Monday she is happy with the outcome. "I appreciate the support I had from the voters and the many people who stood with signs on election day," she said.
Ms. Serpa, who had previously won re-election running unopposed, said the process of promoting herself to voters was a healthy experience. She said she looks forward to meeting the expectations of the voters.
Mr. Fynbo congratulated Ms. Serpa on her victory and said he would continue to be involved in town politics, but said he was disappointed in the low voter turnout of 31 percent.
"This means that 69 percent of the registered voters in Edgartown did not exercise their right as an American citizen to vote," said Mr. Fynbo, "a right that Americans for over 200 years have fought and died for."
In a race for a seat on the planning board, Robert M. Cavallo defeated Roger Becker. The vote was 481-371.
Voters approved all four Proposition 2.5 overrides. Kathleen Case was elected to the board of health by a write-in vote of 151 votes.
Question one, a request for $221,000 for the town dredge passed 604-277.
Question two, a request for $130,000 for roadwork, passed 607-257.
Question three, a request for $100,000 for sidewalks, passed 642-220.
Question four, a request for $64,675 to pay the town's share of the cost for the Dukes County Housing Authority, passed 494-352.
Re-elected were Alan Gowell, board of assessors (735); Jonathan Searle, constable (775); Donna Lowell-Bettencourt (636) and Laurence Mercier (652) to the financial advisory committee; Patricia Haynes Rose (655) and Ann Tyra (680), Library Trustees; Philip Norton Jr., moderator (787); Jane Varkonda, park commission (693); Susan Mercier, school committee (707); Ames Carter, wastewater commission (719); and Robert Burnham, water commission (713).
Oak Bluffs re-elects selectmen Ross and DiOrio
Oak Bluffs voters re-elected selectmen Duncan Ross and Ron DiOrio to three-year terms on the board of selectmen.
Mr. Ross, with 521 votes, was the top vote-getter in the three-way race for two open seats. He was followed by Mr. DiOrio, 499 votes, and Mr. von Steiger, 420 votes.
"I was pleased," said Mr. Ross, who will be serving his second term. "I was pleased that Ron was reelected. Some were saying status quo was good, some were saying the changes I've been making are good."
"I think it was an affirmation of what I've been attempting to do," added Mr. DiOrio. "I'm looking forward to continuing to make what I believe is some real progress."
Mr. von Steiger lost a narrow vote for the selectmen's seat, but was elected to the financial advisory board.
"Won one, lost one," said Mr. von Steiger. "I was pleased I did as well as I did. I would have liked to have won, of course, but I think I made my voice heard, just by the number of people that voted for me."
A total of 885 voters went to the polls last Thursday, or 29 percent of the town's 3,019 registered voters.
In other contested elections, incumbents Joseph Alosso (477 votes), Michael Perry (535), and Mr. von Steiger (465) were re-elected to three-year terms on the finance and advisory board. Newcomer Mac Starks (369) was the low vote getter in the four-way race for three positions.
Nancy Phillips was elected to a three-year term on the park commission, defeating Bill McGrath. The vote was 547-238.
In the contest for a seat on the wastewater commission, Gail Barmakian defeated Richard Combra, 446-380.
In uncontested races, voters re-elected town meeting moderator David Richardson (590 votes), town clerk Deborah Ratcliff (732), board of health member Patricia Bergeron (722), cemetery commissioner Edward Charter (370), school committee member Priscilla Sylvia (679), and water district commissioner Raymond Moreis Jr. (720).
West Tisbury concludes town meeting in two nights
West Tisbury voters concluded their annual town meeting last week but needed two nights to do it. The meeting began Tuesday, but voters failed to complete action on the annual warrant. On Wednesday, voters moved through the last 21 of 52 warrant articles in about two hours.
Funding articles approved included $250,000 to reduce the tax levy and $29,000 for the purchase of a new police department cruiser.
Voters also approved a request from Dukes County commissioners to help fund three county programs: Vineyard Health Care Access, a pest management, and a county engineer.
Voters defeated an article supported by selectman Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter calling for West Tisbury to withdraw from the Up-Island Regional School District.
Two articles concerning changes that would affect future town meetings also failed. Voters rejected a proposed bylaw to allow a vote by written ballot on any town meeting article, if 20 voters wanted it. They also decided against holding next year's annual town meeting on Saturday on a one-year trial basis.
On Tuesday night voters decided most of the big ticket items. Those included approval of a $5.5 million project to renovate and restore the town hall and a $13 million fiscal year 2009 budget.
Voters approved the ambitious $5.5 million town hall project by a vote of 200-6 vote. In addition to renovation and restoration, plans include an addition, furnishings, landscaping, paving, and other site improvements.
In other business Tuesday, voters agreed to postpone indefinitely two articles requesting funds to construct a path on the west side of Old County Road and an article requesting funds for rehabilitating Mill Pond.
Attendance was down from 291 people Tuesday night to 137 on Wednesday. The Wednesday total represents about 6.4 percent of West Tisbury's 2,145 registered voters.
West Tisbury elects Richard Knable, approves town hall
A total of 724 West Tisbury voters, or 34 percent of the town's 2,145 registered voters, went to the polls last Thursday. In a two-way race for a three-year term on the board of selectmen, voters picked challenger Richard R. Knabel over incumbent Glenn Hearn.
Mr. Knabel, who is on the West Tisbury finance committee and the Dukes County Charter Study Commission, received 380 votes to 294 votes cast for Mr. Hearn.
The ballot included the name of James Powell, who decided to withdraw from the race too late to have his name removed. He received 35 votes.
A Proposition 2.5 override ballot question to allow the town to issue bonds to finance the restoration and renovation of town hall passed 453-217.
In a four-way race for two three-year seats on the library board of trustees, incumbents Linda Hearn (347 votes) and Hermine Hull (354) beat back challenges from Cynthia Riggs (339) and Gregory Orcutt (283).
There were no other races on the ballot. The following candidates were elected unopposed: Patrick Gregory, moderator (609 votes); Katherine Logue, treasurer (593); Brent Taylor, tax collector (584); Prudence Whiting, town clerk (620); Jeremiah Brown, tree warden (567); Erik Lowe, board of health (579 votes); Robert Mone, board of assessors (560); Timothy Maley, constable (587); Alexander DeVito, finance committee (504); Brian Athearn, finance committee (554); Cheryl Lowe, park and recreation committee (551); D. Bruce Keep, park and recreation committee (504); Glenn Hearn, land bank commission (520); David Douglas, planning board (546).
West Tisbury Library trustees invite public comment
The West Tisbury Library board of trustees will hold a public meeting Wednesday, April 30, at the Grange Hall for people to express their views on the library.
Cheryl Bryan, a consultant from the South East Massachusetts Library Systems will be the facilitator for this meeting and another planned in August, according to a press release.
Bruce A. Younger, 59
Bruce A. Younger, a long-time Edgartown resident and a charter fisherman, died April 16 in Orange, Massachusetts, after a brief illness. A memorial service on the Vineyard will be held at a later date. Witty's Funeral Home (wittyfuneralhome.com), 158 South Main Street, Orange is in charge of the arrangements. A full obituary will appear in the April 24 edition of The Times.
Charter study commission changes dates for feedback
The Dukes County Charter Study Commission has changed the dates of public sessions designed to hear feedback from the public about ideas that are being considered for county governance.
The session scheduled for the Chilmark Library on Tuesday is changed to 7 pm Wednesday.
The commission will meet as scheduled at 5 pm Thursday in the Oak Bluffs Senior Center. And the meeting scheduled for Monday, April 28 in Edgartown will be re-scheduled.
According to a press release these will be the final opportunities for citizens to give substantive input to the Charter Study Commission before its recommendations are made. The recommendations will be a ballot question for the November 2008 election.
Astrology feature moves to Arlan Wise's website
Arlan Wise's astrology column, long a Martha's Vineyard Times Community section feature, will no longer appear in the newspaper. The column that would have appeared today is available by e-mail request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ms. Wise will launch a website that will contain her column and much more.
The web address for Ms. Wise's site will appear in her advertisement in the Health and Fitness section of the newspaper, when the website is finished. The web address will also be available via e-mail.
"It has been my pleasure to be your Island astrologer, since June of 1991. I hope to continue to serve your astro-needs for many years to come. Thank you to my devoted readers. With love," Ms. Wise wrote this week.
Libraries offer downloadable audio books
The public libraries of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven have launched a new free service, offering free downloadable audio books and music to their patrons on their home computers.
The three down-Island libraries are among 20 member libraries of CLAMS, the Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing network, that have signed up for the new service from OverDrive Inc., a Cleveland-based provider of digital media content. By following links on their library websites, patrons can browse the new collection, check out and download digital audio books and music anytime, from anywhere, at no cost.
To check out downloadable audio books and music, all you need is a valid library card from one of the three participating Island libraries, a personal computer and an Internet connection. The OverDrive system uses a free Media Console software which manages the download process and transfer of files to a supported MP3 player. Many of the audio book and music files can also be burned to a CD.
"We are excited about our new service," said Eileen Chandler, member services manager for the CLAMS network, which is based in Hyannis. "Our library users have the comfort of accessing the digital collection from anywhere, whenever they want."
The CLAMS collection has something for everyone, including James Patterson's "7th Heaven," "Eclipse" by Stephanie Meyer and suspenseful thrillers by John Grisham.
Vineyard Montessori School in Vineyard Haven has once again been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). As of September 2006, the NAEYC revised its program standards and criteria and introduced a new level of quality, accountability, and service for children in childcare programs.
To earn accreditation under the new system, Vineyard Montessori School went through an extensive self-study process, including an on-site visit by an NAEYC assessor to ensure the school's program met each of the association's ten program standards.
"We're proud to have once again earned the mark of a quality program from NAEYC, and to be recognized for our commitment to reaching the highest professional standards" said Kathy Hye, administrative director.
"For 33 years, Vineyard Montessori School has offered a rich carefully planned and stimulating curriculum which helps children develop within themselves the foundational habits, attitudes, skills and ideas which are essential for a lifetime of creative thinking and learning," Ms. Hye noted. "Our classrooms provide an atmosphere that is pleasant and attractive and allows children ages 2.9 to 9 to learn at their own pace."
For more information, call 508-693-4090.
Island lineman receives award from NSTAR
Fred Natusch of Tisbury, a veteran lineworker at NSTAR, recently received the company's Champion for the Customer award for his outstanding dedication on the job. Natusch is known by coworkers and customers alike for his strong work ethic and caring response to customer calls, said the company in a press release.
In announcing the award, NSTAR cited an example in which Mr. Natusch went out of his way to restore power to a house. That prompted the homeowner to write that Mr. Natusch "...is a great example of the kind of employee every company should have."
NSTAR launched the Champion for the Customer Award program in 2007 to recognize outstanding employee accomplishments.
Coldwell Banker Landmarks ranks number one
Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate, with offices in Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs, was ranked number one for Coldwell Banker affiliate offices in Massachusetts, based on adjusted gross income and named a Coldwell Banker Premier Office.
This is the second year that Landmarks received the distinguished Premier Office award, the highest honor given to Coldwell Banker offices nationally, and the first time it ranked tops in the state, according to a press release.
"The Premier Office award is the most significant recognition that can be given to individual Coldwell Banker offices, representing the highest level of teamwork and achievement," says Judy Federowicz, principal owner of Landmarks. "To then be named number one affiliate agency in the state has really knocked our socks off. We are honored to receive these awards and tremendously proud of our team of professional agents who have consistently demonstrated a level of excellence which has resulted in our ongoing success."
For more information, call 508-693-6886 or go to www.mvlandmarks.com.
Falmouth Academy to host open house, art show and play
Falmouth Academy will host its Spring Open House for current 5th graders and older students who anticipate applying to the school next year for enrollment in 2009-10 on Saturday, May 10, from 5:30-7 pm.
Falmouth Academy is an academically rigorous, independent day school for college-bound students in grades 7-12. Approximately 25 students from Martha's Vineyard commute to the academy.
Prospective families will also have the opportunity to view the school's spring art show. The academy's drama department will present Giraudoux's The Enchanted that evening. The public is invited to attend. For information, call the FA Admissions Office at 508-457-9696.
In the April 10 issue of The Times, the story "Oak Bluffs rejects override, but approves pay hikes," incorrectly identified the moderator of the Oak Bluffs town meeting as David Roberts. The moderator's name is David Richardson.