A smattering of Oak Bluffs town voters turned out Tuesday to put the finishing touches on the Oak Bluffs annual town meeting. Voters approved $335,701 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) projects, and changed zoning bylaws for development in flood-prone areas and the regulations covering wind energy generators.
A total of 94 voters, or 2.8 percent of the town’s 3,319 registered voters, had checked in when moderator Dave Richardson called the meeting to order at 7 pm on the third and final night of the annual town meeting.
Voters met on April 13 and April 14 but failed to conclude all annual town business.
Tuesday voters approved five separate CPA projects, including $132,000 for the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority rental assistance program which has struggled with a sharp drop in private funding previously provided by the Island Affordable Housing Fund. That amount is nearly double last year’s contribution.
“I’ve been living on the Island for most of my adult life,” said Barbara Nolan, who participates in the county program that subsidizes her rent. “I was told to go live on a shelter on the Cape. This rental assistance program saved my life.”
Others were concerned about the increasing costs to the town. “This year we are allocating 69 percent of our funding for affordable housing,” voter Paul Foley said. “Obviously affordable housing is a very important issue. When you give it to affordable housing it goes to a few people. When you give it to community preservation and open space it goes to everybody.”
Voters also approved $100,000 to be put into the newly created affordable housing trust; $10,201 to repair windows in the Dukes County Courthouse; $44,000 to rehabilitate a picnic pavillion in Niantic Park; $49,500 for a watershed and drainage survey to help improve the public beaches.
Voters also approved a zoning bylaw change that would require certain property owners within flood-prone areas to acquire a special permit to improve or change buildings. The bylaw would affect about five percent of Oak Bluffs property owners. “They can still improve their building,” Elizabeth Durkee, town conservation agent, said. “They can still rebuild. The only thing they can’t do is make it bigger.”
Another zoning action updated the town’s bylaws on wind generating systems. The cages require inspections, certifications, and a decommissioning plan.
Another article approved by voters would require street performers to get a license at a cost of $50.