Another round for Tisbury beer and wine petition
The Massachusetts Senate approved a home rule petition Monday, authorizing Tisbury to issue limited licenses to serve beer and wine. Sen. Robert O'Leary added an amendment to the measure that would limit the town to no more than 19 such licenses, without seeking special additional authorization from the state legislature.
The legislation, as initially drafted and submitted by the town, allowed the selectmen to issue licenses without a quota. Although state Senate counsel and legislators previously approved similarly worded legislation from Tisbury in 2008, current Senate counsel requested a change in the wording, in keeping with Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 138, Section 17, which stipulates how many year-round licenses a town may issue.
The selectmen voted to recommend the change to keep the legislation moving toward a vote at annual town meeting next spring.
The bill now returns to the House, which approved a similar measure earlier this year. Rep. Tim Madden said he expects his colleagues will approve the petition.
"I think the House will concur with the amendment," Rep. Madden said. "It should get to the governor's desk in the next couple of weeks."
If, as expected, Gov. Deval Patrick signs the measure into law, the decision will go back before the voters in the spring at town elections. In 2008, voters defeated a very similar measure by two votes, following a recount.
The current petition got its start in January when a group of 11 Tisbury voters filed a petition with the town clerk requesting that the selectmen place an article on the town meeting warrant for approval to file a home-rule petition request with the state legislature to grant licenses for the sale of beer and wine in restaurants, inns, and other establishments. No bars or package stores would be allowed.
Voters approved the article 136-109 on April 15, the second night of Tisbury's 2009 annual town meeting.
Too few voters attend Aquinnah special
Aquinnah asked voters to reconvene at a special town meeting last Tuesday to take up the last four questions that the town had been unable to resolve when the meeting was first held, because of a lack of a quorum. One of the questions, number 12, proposed to reduce the quorum requirement for town meetings from 10 percent of all registered voters to five.
Town officials put the article on the warrant because Aquinnah has had repeated difficulty attracting enough voters to complete town business. And that was the case again. Too few voters showed up.
The meeting began on Nov. 17. Early in the meeting voters approved new zoning regulations governing wind turbines, but a quorum call after eight of the 12 articles on the warrant had been approved revealed that too few voters remained to continue.
Left out in the cold was a proposal to allow the tax collector to charge $5 for each demand for payment of a tax bill; $1,500 to update town GIS maps; and $800 for additional revaluation expenses.
Tax hike likely in Edgartown
A typical tax bill for an Edgartown property owner is expected to rise approximately three percent in the next fiscal year, the board of assessors told Edgartown selectmen at their Monday meeting.
While it will not become official until state regulators certify the underlying figures, assessors expect the new tax rate to be $3.09 per thousand dollars of valuation. Last year, the tax rate was $2.91 per thousand.
The increase in the tax rate reflects lower valuations of property across town. It also reflects $555,266 in Proposition 2.5 override questions approved by voters at the April 14 town meeting, and affirmed in the April 16 town elections.
The overrides covered the town dredging program, capping the old town landfill, resurfacing streets, repairing sidewalks, part of the Dukes County pest control program, and part of the Dukes County health care access program.
The amount of each property owner's tax increase could vary widely from the three-percent average increase, because property in some parts of town lost more value than property in other parts of town.
Also at Monday's meeting, selectmen voted to maintain their policy of applying a single tax rate for all classifications of property.
Savings Bank opens Woods Hole branch
Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank opened a Woods Hole office Monday at 2 Water Street, better known to Islanders as "right next to Pie in the Sky." Called Bank of Woods Hole, the Island savings bank's new satellite, subtitled "Branch of Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank," is in the space that was once occupied by Bank of America, which closed at the end of the summer.
"We elected to use the name to provide Woods Hole with a bank of their own," Martha's Vineyard Savings president and chief executive Christopher Wells told the Cape Cod Times. "We think there's a distinct affinity that people feel when they're a part of that village, even though it's part of the larger Falmouth community."
Apart from its signature value for Woods Hole residents, the new bank will be convenient for Vineyarders. "It's a really very nice and uniquely positive position. We're there when you get off the boat and we're there when you get on the boat," Mr. Wells said.
Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank was formed in 2007 by the merger of Martha's Vineyard Co-operative Bank and Dukes County Savings Bank.
Island delegation meets with feds on wind
A delegation of Island officials met with a task force evaluating commercial wind projects in federal waters on November 19. The task force is working under the authority of the United State Minerals Management Service (MMS), the federal agency that permits wind power projects in federal waters, which extend from 3 to 200 miles offshore.
The Island group represented by selectmen from all six towns, as well as public officials from the Martha's Vineyard Commission, Dukes County, and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head met with the task force at the Massachusetts Maritime academy in Buzzards Bay. "I think it was valuable to go and express ourselves, which we certainly did," Richard Knabel, West Tisbury selectman, said. "A number of us came away saying these decisions have already been made."
He thinks MMS will issue a "request for interest" in January 2010, calling for developers to signal whether they want to develop wind power projects in federal waters.
Oak Bluffs selectman Kathy Burton said it was not clear what role the task force will play in siting wind projects. "At least they were respectful and interested and listened to what the group had to say," Ms. Burton said. "I almost felt the [task force] wasn't clear about what their role will be."
Children in trunk prompt charges against Aquinnah man
A man police said locked his two young children in the trunk of his car as he shopped in a store in Fall River last Tuesday prompted a search that extended to the Vineyard.
Police arrested Michael B. Monahan, 35, of Aquinnah for domestic assault and wanton or reckless endangerment of a child.
A Fall River shop owner called police and said he observed Mr. Monahan changing the children's clothes in the trunk of a 1998 Pontiac Grand Am. After the shop owner questioned Mr. Monahan, he admitted the children were in the trunk, and drove off, according to a report in the Herald News of Fall River.
Aquinnah police were called to help apprehend Mr. Monahan. Officer Ryan Ruley, at the request of Fall River Police, went to Monahan's last known address, but found he no longer lived there. He then contacted the children's mother.
The children's mother advised Officer Ruley that she, the children, and their father were all driving to a Fall River Police station. Police said Mr. Monahan voluntarily went to the Fall River police station where he was questioned, and then arrested. Police notified the state Department of children and families about the incident, and released the children to their mother.
MVC to hold wind DCPC land zone public hearing
The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) will hold a public hearing on designation of the land zone of the Island Wind District of Critical Planning Concern (DCPC) on Thursday, Dec. 10, at 7:30 pm, at the MVC Offices at 33 New York Avenue in Oak Bluffs.
The MVC already designated the ocean zone of the Island Wind DCPC, which encompasses Island waters out to the 3-mile limit of the towns' jurisdiction. The public hearing offers town boards and members of the public an opportunity to comment on whether or not the MVC should designate the lands and inland waters as well.
The proposed DCPC land zone presently includes the air space above 150 feet over all lands and waters of Dukes County with the exception of certain Indian lands, all school grounds, and the town of Edgartown.
Tisbury holiday promotion starts tonight
The members of the Tisbury Business Association have organized a month-long series of events and specials to promote shopping locally in Vineyard Haven during the holiday season.
Events include free hayrides on Saturdays, Dec. 5, 12, and 19 from 11am to 2 pm at the Tisbury Market Place and Bowl & Board/Eco MV, according to a press release.
On Twilight Thursdays, Dec. 3 and 10, participating local businesses will remain open until 7 pm, with great holiday specials, raffles, treats, music and more.
On December 17, Friends & Family Night kicks off at 3 pm with fun activities throughout town. Participating shops will remain open until 8 pm and local eateries will also stay open late.
Remembering those in uniform this Holiday Season
As part of the holiday season, The Martha's Vineyard Times invites our readers to provide an update on Islanders serving in our country's military for publication in the December 24 issue.
Please email information about military personnel including name, rank, and branch of service, along with a brief note about where they are and what they are doing, to janet.hefler@mvtimes by December 11. Photos also would be appreciated.
Agricultural Society wins advertising awards
The Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society of West Tisbury won four awards including the "Best of Show" honor at the 2009 Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs' Association (MAFA) Media Awards competition held November 7, in Marlborough.
The fair received two first place awards in the advertising specialties and poster categories, and two third-place awards in the premium books and potpourri (special promotions) categories in the medium fairs designation. The fair also received the best of show prize for its poster.
Seventeen fairs from across Massachusetts participated in the competition that drew a record 98 entries, according to a press release.
Governor Patrick announces that utility will negotiate to buy Cape Wind electricity
Governor Deval Patrick yesterday announced that National Grid and Cape Wind have agreed to enter into negotiations for a long-term contract under which the utility would purchase the electricity generated by Cape Wind.
A "power purchase" agreement would be a critical requirement for financing the proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound, and getting it into construction and operation in time to qualify for federal incentives under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that would reduce the cost of the project by 30 percent, according to a press release.
"For both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and launching the offshore wind industry that will achieve those reductions, it is essential for Cape Wind, like offshore wind in general, to move from wishful thinking to reality," said Governor Patrick in a press release. "A contract with an electric distribution utility like National Grid will move Cape Wind one step closer to reality."
The power purchase arrangement still has to go through state regulatory review.
National Grid is expected to file shortly with the state Department of Public Utilities a memorandum of understanding with Cape Wind laying out the rationale for such a contract, as well as the methods and timelines by which the parties will pursue an agreement. If DPU gives approval to the process, National Grid and Cape Wind will engage in negotiations to enter into a mutually agreeable long-term contract and submit any final pact to DPU for review and approval.
"The Green Communities Act called for long-term contracts to help renewable energy developers get their projects financed," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles. "While these contracts can be arrived at in a variety of ways, a smart, well-structured agreement to purchase the power generated by the nation's first offshore wind farm, located just miles off the Massachusetts shore, will promote renewable energy and replace fossil-fuel power plants with emissions-free power."