Sewer, land, housing issues face Edgartown
Edgartown voters are slated to address 20 warrant articles at a December 9 special town meeting at 7 pm at the Edgartown Elementary School. While many of the matters are routine, others should draw considerable interest, including several articles affecting affordable housing, additional money to complete an eminent domain land purchase, and the first step in extending the town's sewer system to Island Grove, a large subdivision.
The sewer issue is article 11, a request to voters to spend $85,000 from the town's free cash account for design, permitting, and bidding of sewer work.
"I'm hoping we're going to see a large turnout on the issue of engineering Island Grove," said Art Smadbeck, chairman of the board of selectmen. "It's very, very important to the town, and to Edgartown Great Pond. It is key to Edgartown Great Pond for the future." The 148-home subdivision lies within the Great Pond watershed. According to Mr. Smadbeck, residents of Island Grove have agreed to pay for half the cost of extending the sewer system.
Another article involves a disputed land sale, on a 2.18 acre parcel on Robinson Road, next to the New Westside Cemetery. The article asks the town to spend, from a variety of sources, $750,000 to complete the eminent domain taking of the land "for cemetery, open space, and other municipal purposes." At a 2006 special town meeting, voters agreed to authorize the town to take the land, at it's assessed value of $1,550,000. The land, owned by the Edgartown United Methodist Church, had a purchase and sales agreement to sell the land to Paul Donovan. He planned to subdivide and develop four homes on the property. Mr. Donovan, who lives in New York, sued the town, filing his lawsuit in Edgartown Superior Court, but then withdrawing that action, and refilling in U.S. District Court in Boston. The case, already postponed once, is set for trial in February of 2009. In the interim, attorneys for the town negotiated a proposed settlement with Mr. Donovan, agreeing to increase the purchase price to $2,305,000. The new deal needs the approval of voters.
Also on the warrant are a series of articles that would set up an affordable housing trust fund, to accept a donation of $718,000 from the Field Club. That money is the first installment in an agreement to swap building lots for cash. Permit conditions imposed by the Martha's Vineyard Commission on the Field Club, a luxury development and recreational facility in Katama, included a donation of three lots to the town for affordable housing. Well after the project was underway, the developers proposed instead to pay the town $1.8 million, a change in conditions that was approved by the Martha's Vineyard Commission in September.
In a related article, voters will be asked to spend $300,000 from the newly established trust fund (if it is approved) to purchase a home on Twenty-Second Street in Edgartown. That three-bedroom home, built on a lot that was sold through the town's affordable housing program in 1998, is available for sale to the town because of the terms of the original deed.
"Hopefully, by April or May, we can have a lottery for that home," said Janet Hathaway, chairman of the town's affordable housing committee. "It will allow us to turn it into another affordable housing unit."
In other business, voters will be asked to transfer $160,000 from a legal settlement to pay for replacement of water mains on North Main Street, to appropriate from free cash $19,300 for repairs to the council on aging building, and authorize the town to accept in perpetuity, the lease of approximately 180 feet of beach which abuts Bend in the Road Beach. The Cow Bay Corporation currently owns the beach property.