West Tisbury selectmen set date for beer and wine hearing

— File photo by Mae Deary

West Tisbury selectmen agreed last week to schedule a public forum on November 2 to discuss the town’s move to allow restaurants to serve beer and wine. Legislation that would authorize selectmen to develop regulations and issue licenses awaits Governor Patrick’s signature.

Voters at annual town meeting last April set the multi-step process of shedding the dry town designation in motion. The final step would be a ballot question in the April 12, 2012 election. If approved, West Tisbury would follow in the footsteps of Tisbury and Aquinnah, which last year voted to allow beer and wine service in restaurants.

The issue of beer and wine arose following a permit request in summer 2010 from a Boston area-based wine group that sponsored a four-day food and wine festival. The request and subsequent questions prompted an inquiry to Ron Rappaport, town attorney, who explained that the town could not legally allow alcohol to be served at events, including popular fundraisers, where money has changed hands.

The beer and wine forum will begin at 5 pm in the Howes House on Wednesday, November 2.

In other business, the selectmen received a status report from Conservation Commission (ConCom) chairman Prudy Burt and administrator Maria McFarland regarding court battles over the Edens’ property revetment request.

Wesley Edens, owner of property located west of Long Point on the north side of Tisbury Great Pond at the end of a point of land, requested a permit to install a revetment. The land between the house and the pond has been eroding at a rate of about two feet per year, according to court filings.

In 2009, Mr. Edens sought permission from the ConCom to build a 255-foot stone revetment. In March, 2010 the ConCom denied the permit application stating that Mr. Edens should use other, less invasive, techniques to stem erosion.

Later, during the review process, Mr. Edens agreed to reduce the length to 170-feet. He also agreed to provide 38 cubic yards of beach nourishment to address concerns that the absence of his eroding bank would deprive other areas of the pond of beach nourishment.

However, the main point of contention between Mr. Edens and the ConCom was the stone revetment. The ConCom wanted Mr. Edens to try so-called soft measures to protect the bank, for example coir fiber rolls made of tightly bound cylinders of coconut fiber.

Mr. Edens presented testimony to the ConCom in the public hearing phase, that fiber rolls would not be sufficient, according to court documents.

Mr. Edens appealed to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP approved Mr. Edens request in January, 2011. The ConCom filed an appeal of that ruling.

At the same time Mr. Edens also appealed to the Dukes County Superior Court challenging the town bylaw governing the protection of coastal banks. At that time, the ConCom agreed to reconsider Mr. Edens’s application for permits based on the shortened length of the project. However, in September the ConCom again denied the permits for the shortened revetment.

Ms. Burt told the selectmen that Mr. Edens now has until Nov. 11th to refile his appeal to the Superior Court. Ms. McFarland said that the ConCom appeal to the state is on hold until the questions regarding the town’s bylaw are settled in court. According to ConCom documents, the town bylaw is more restrictive than the state’s Wetland Protection Act when it concerns coastal banks.

The selectmen asked for clarification of the legal expenses related to the Edens’ property to date and into the future. Ms. McFarland said that to date the legal fees have totaled a little under $10,000.

The Boston law firm of Rubin & Rudman serves as special counsel to the ConCom and is charging $225 an hour. Ms. McFarland said that the law firm estimated that the next round of appeals in Superior Court, “with motions going back and forth,” should require about 25 hours of legal work.

The selectmen also approved the replacement of six metal name plaques missing from the veteran’s memorial monument located at the intersection of State Road and the West Tisbury – Edgartown Road. The monument to World War I and II veterans is scheduled to be moved to a new permanent location by the flagpole in front of Town Hall within the next two weeks. According to selectman Richard Knabel, preliminary plans are underway to construct a second monument in the same area to town veterans who served in conflicts after World War II.