To the Editor:
Article 10 on the Oak Bluffs town meeting warrant, April 12, threatens the Winthrop Avenue residential neighborhood. It asks town residents to approve a change in zoning for one residential lot on Winthrop Avenue, so that Tony’s Market can use it for 30-foot trucks delivering alcohol and food. They claim it will “improve traffic and public safety in the area.”
What about the safety of the families on Winthrop Avenue? Winthrop Avenue is two blocks long, with 16 small year-round houses, one park, and 14 children under the age of 14. It is zoned residential, and it should stay that way.
The danger of Article 10 is that it will rezone part of Winthrop Avenue so that it becomes commercial. For now, that will allow Tony’s to bring 30-foot trucks in to deliver. In the future, it would allow the owner of that lot to build out to the lot lines and run any kind of business there — expand Tony’s, run a restaurant, etc.
By municipal law, spot zoning changes such as this need to preserve property values and should not benefit one individual over another. This article clearly benefits the owners of Tony’s Market, Dave and Ellen Richardson. It allows them to expand their business into the neighboring area. And, it clearly reduces the property values of the surrounding houses by bringing commercial usage and traffic into a residential area.
Instead of trying to rezone, Dave Richardson should resolve the issues resulting from his growing business at the source, rather than at the expense of the neighborhood. He should control delivery times, allocate space on his lot, rent parking space on Dukes County Avenue, encourage the town to commission a traffic study for the Dukes County Avenue commercial district, encourage the police department to enforce parking regulations outside Tony’s, encourage the highway department to repaint the traffic and parking lines.
The quality of life in the surrounding residential neighborhoods should not suffer from the increase in business at Tony’s Market.
There is a planning board hearing on Thursday, April 7 (tonight), at 7 pm on the Town Hall lower level. The planning board makes a recommendation at town meeting on this article, so it is important to attend and speak up — they need to hear from you. It’s the only agenda item, so if you don’t have much time, come at 7 pm and speak early.
And, vote no on Article 10, at town meeting.