Chilmark meets Monday; $830K is on the agenda
With the summer season over, Chilmark voters will be asked to turn their attention to town business at a special town meeting, scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm on Monday, at the Chilmark Community Center.
The ten-article special town meeting warrant includes more than $830,000 in spending for projects that include work on the Menemsha harborfront, parking lot repairs, and water quality research. Voters will also be asked to continue to limit the number of building permits that are issued each year, and to lease town land for a municipal swimming pool.
The largest spending item is a request to appropriate $750,000 to repair the town filled dock in Menemsha and to install new floating docks. The work on the fill dock would replace old wood sheathing with steel sheathing, making it stronger and more durable. The floating docks would replace the current wooden dock that would have to be removed to install the new sheathing.
Warren Doty, Chilmark selectman, said that the work is needed to maintain the long-term health of the town dock.
"The past few years we have just been filling in the holes where the fill dock has eroded," he said. "Every engineer has recommended that we do a good job and do it right, and put in steel sheathing, and that is an expensive job, but if we don't do it the dock will just keep eroding and we will just keep patching it up every spring in a pretty unprofessional way."
In other spending items, article one asks voters to appropriate $13,750 for the town's share to participate in the Massachusetts Estuaries Project. The money will be used to pay for the study of nutrient loading and the environmental health of Tisbury Great Pond.
Article four asks voters for $14,000 to grade and pave the parking lot at the Menemsha School. In another request for parking lot improvements, article 10 asks for $25,000 to repair the Squibnocket Beach parking lot.
Two articles will ask voters to divvy up the money that the town expects to receive from the Community Preservation Act (CPA), the state program designed to raise money for affordable housing, open space preservation, and historic preservation. Towns in the program add a three percent surcharge to real estate tax bills, which the state will match at 100 percent.
In fiscal year 2006, Chilmark expects to receive more than $270,000 in CPA money. Article five on the special town meeting warrant asks voters to appropriate $27,164 for each of the three categories - open space, historical preservation, and housing. The article asks for the remaining $190,144 to be set aside in the town's community preservation budget reserve.
Article six asks the voters to appropriate $5,000 from the CPA undesignated fund balance for the community preservation committee's administration budget. According to the warrant, the money is needed for legal services.
Article seven asks voters to appropriate $25,000 from money generated by the sale of cemetery lots, to construct roads and level areas in new sections of Abel's Hill Cemetery.
Article two does not have a specific dollar value, but it asks voters to provide health insurance to members of the Chilmark volunteer fire department and to members of the Tri-Town ambulance service.
Among the non-spending items, article nine asks voters to authorize the selectmen to lease a section of town owned land on Peaked hill to the Chilmark town affairs council. The council wants to build a municipal swimming pool on the land.
Mr. Doty said he expects the article to generate plenty of discussion. Asked if the selectmen support the plan, Mr. Doty said, "The selectmen have received the reports from the community center very favorably, and we would move ahead to explore the site and see if there is a good spot for it."
J. B. Riggs Parker, selectman, said he thinks that the project should be considered carefully with a focus on its potential long-term impacts. "As a general matter, I believe that any major new town feature, whether built by the town or not, should have the benefit of being part of an overall plan that has been developed for the long-term by those boards charged with such responsibility," he said. "That being said, the voters of course are free to make exceptions to existing plans or precede before a plan has been made, if that is their will. I think the most important thing is to have a full view of what the impact of any new town feature will be on the town, financially, culturally, and physically."
Article eight, the only zoning article on the warrant, asks voters to continue to limit the number of building permits that are issued each year. The bylaw would cap permits at 18 per year, for the next three years.
A proposed change to the bylaw would also add another criterion for defining tear-down renovations. Under the change, renovations that increase the footprint of a house by 25 percent or 500 square feet, which ever is less, would be considered tear-down renovations, and would be subject to the town's "new residential construction" bylaws, including the building permit cap.