Four ballot questions face Island voters, five in Chilmark

Four ballot questions face Island voters, five in Chilmark

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Island voters will be asked to take action on three statewide ballot questions placed before them by initiative petition.

And, Chilmark voters will take part in a dual election and receive a separate ballot with one question on it. They will be asked to approve a Proposition 2.5 override to pay for a bond issue to replace the pier connector destroyed in the July 12 Menemsha fire, but to exempt the expenditure from the Proposition 2.5 provisions of state law.

Question 1: Sales Tax on Alcoholic Beverages

Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives before May 4, 2010?

Summary

This proposed law would remove the Massachusetts sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol, where the sale of such beverages and alcohol or their importation into the state is already subject to a separate excise tax under state law. The proposed law would take effect on January 1, 2011.

A Yes Vote would remove the state sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol where their sale or importation into the state is subject to an excise tax under state law.

A No Vote would make no change in the state sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol.

Question 2: Comprehensive Permits forLow- or Moderate- Income Housing

Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives before May 4, 2010? (This is commonly known as Chapter 40B of state law.)

Summary

This proposed law would repeal an existing state law that allows a qualified organization wishing to build government-subsidized housing that includes low- or moderate-income units to apply for a single comprehensive permit from a city or town’s zoning board of appeals (ZBA), instead of separate permits from each local agency or official having jurisdiction over any aspect of the proposed housing. The repeal would take effect on January 1, 2011, but would not stop or otherwise affect any proposed housing that had already received both a comprehensive permit and a building permit for at least one unit.

Under the existing law, the ZBA holds a public hearing on the application and considers the recommendations of local agencies and officials. The ZBA may grant a comprehensive permit that may include conditions or requirements about the height, site plan, size, shape, or building materials of the housing. Persons aggrieved by the ZBA’s decision to grant a permit may appeal it to a court. If the ZBA denies the permit or grants it with conditions or requirements that make the housing uneconomic to build or to run, the applicant may appeal to the state Housing Appeals Committee (HAC).

After a hearing, if the HAC rules that the ZBA’s denial of a comprehensive permit was unreasonable and not consistent with local needs, the HAC orders the ZBA to issue the permit. If the HAC rules that the ZBA’s decision issuing a comprehensive permit with conditions or requirements made the housing uneconomic to build or operate and was not consistent with local needs, the HAC orders the ZBA to change or remove any such condition or requirement so as to make the proposal no longer uneconomic. The HAC cannot order the ZBA to issue any permit that would allow the housing to fall below minimum safety standards or site plan requirements. If the HAC rules that the ZBA’s action was consistent with local needs, the HAC must uphold it even if it made the housing uneconomic. The HAC’s decision is subject to review in the courts.

A condition or requirement makes housing “uneconomic” if it would prevent a public agency or nonprofit organization from building or operating the housing except at a financial loss, or it would prevent a limited dividend organization from building or operating the housing without a reasonable return on its investment.

A ZBA’s decision is “consistent with local needs” if it applies requirements that are reasonable in view of the regional need for low- and moderate-income housing and the number of low-income persons in the city or town, as well as the need to protect health and safety, promote better site and building design, and preserve open space, if those requirements are applied as equally as possible to both subsidized and unsubsidized housing. Requirements are considered “consistent with local needs” if more than 10 percent of the city or town’s housing units are low- or moderate-income units or if such units are on sites making up at least 1.5 percent of the total private land zoned for residential, commercial, or industrial use in the city or town. Requirements are also considered “consistent with local needs” if the application would result, in any one calendar year, in beginning construction of low- or moderate-income housing on sites making up more than 0.3 percent of the total private land zoned for residential, commercial, or industrial use in the city or town, or on ten acres, whichever is larger.

The proposed law states that if any of its parts were declared invalid, the other parts would stay in effect.

A Yes Vote would repeal the state law allowing the issuance of a single comprehensive permit to build housing that includes low- or moderate-income units.

A No Vote would make no change in the state law allowing issuance of such a comprehensive permit.

Question 3: Sales and Use Tax Rates

Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives before May 4, 2010?

Summary

This proposed law would reduce the state sales and use tax rates (which were 6.25 percent as of September 2009) to 3 percent as of January 1, 2011. It would make the same reduction in the rate used to determine the amount to be deposited with the state Commissioner of Revenue by non-resident building contractors as security for the payment of sales and use tax on tangible personal property used in carrying out their contracts.

The proposed law provides that if the 3 percent rates would not produce enough revenues to satisfy any lawful pledge of sales and use tax revenues in connection with any bond, note, or other contractual obligation, then the rates would instead be reduced to the lowest level allowed by law.

The proposed law would not affect the collection of money due the Commonwealth for sales, storage, use or other consumption of tangible personal property or services occurring before January 1, 2011.

The proposed law states that if any of its parts were declared invalid, the other parts would stay in effect.

A Yes Vote would reduce the state sales and use tax rates to 3 percent.

A No Vote would make no change in the state sales and use tax rates.

Question Four: Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow the state to regulate and tax marijuana in the same manner as alcohol?

This question is not binding.