To the Editor:
I’m writing today to voice my deepest concerns about small town government in West Tisbury. It was my understanding when I purchased my home in 1998, that West Tisbury had protections in place to prevent over-developement. I worked a lot longer and saved the extra money necessary to purchase in West Tisbury, because I did not want to live in suburbia. Our town is considered an agricultural center. Most of the people in our town want to keep it that way. I was under the assumption that our elected officials were supposed to uphold the by laws of our town, in order to maintain a small, rural feel. I guess that was naive of me.
A few years ago a real estate developer tried to build a house on a substandard lot near my home. The lot was so small they needed a variance from the board of health, because the well and the septic were too close together. This was not an affordable lot, but for profit. Despite letters of opposition for 12 abutters, the board of health ignored the town voters and allowed the variance. The house was built on a tiny, substandard lot destroying many beautiful old growth trees, a blueberry haven, and the nest of a northeastern screech owl. No concern was given to this beautiful habitat. Our property values were negatively impacted by this postage stamp build.
Here we are again. Same developer, an even smaller substandard lot that requires two variances, and plans for a huge one-bedroom house. This developer owns many tiny parcels that he purchased knowing they were unbuildable. Again, we are not discussing affordable lots, but for profit. If the board of health and the zoning board continue to allow the raping of our neighborhoods by these developers, there will be nothing left of our rural town. No one’s neighborhood is safe from the precedents this will set. We as a town need to be very vocal to our elected officials and let them know we are not interested in granting variances that don’t meet town standards, unless they are for affordable housing.
One of the members actually suggested that because our neighborhood was not a historic area, or a “special place,” it was not worth conserving. I completely disagree. All of West Tisbury is a treasure. Whether you own a sprawling vista or a one acre lot with a modest home like mine, they are valuable. The town of West Tisbury sets higher bylaws for building to protect its taxpayers, all taxpayers, from overdevelopment and crowding. I am confused and painfully disappointed that the board of health and the zoning board would allow this to happen once, and are now considering it again.
Please contact the board of health and the zoning board in West Tisbury and let them know you do not support these building projects, and help protect our town from overdevelopemnt.
There is an open meeting on May 31, at 7:15 pm. Please attend if you can, and let our elected officials know we do not want to allow any variances from town bylaws for real estate developers. Our bylaws were set up to protect the town. We believe and agree with them, and we want them upheld.
Susan M. Cahill