Letters to the Editor
Proposed DCPC would set dangerous precedent
To the Editor:
I'd like to bring to the attention of the Island an important issue that I am facing, because it may affect all of us on the Vineyard.
Last year, in order to help a friend prevent a large-scale housing development (40B) from going in his backyard, I bought an 8.3-acre parcel adjacent to his land on Mullen Way, on the outskirts of Edgartown. The 40B developer offered a high price, and we had to match it. To recoup our investment, we proposed to add eight new homes to the street, rather than the 14 homes allowed by current zoning laws. We received preliminary approval from the Edgartown planning board.
By the time we filed for final approval, several neighbors - and attorney Ron Monterosso - objected to the plan. Mullen Way, like many roads on the Vineyard, is a narrow, paved public road and, over the years, has been further narrowed by overgrowth and hedges. Among other things, neighbors expressed concern over safety on the road. In response, we had a traffic study done which assured us that, although narrow, the road is workable for the plan we filed.
This past spring, a handful of Mullen Way neighbors were very vocal at the planning board meeting where the Mullen Way plan was discussed. As a result, the planning board referred the Mullen Way project to the Martha's Vineyard Commission for consideration.
I had open-heart surgery in the spring. Because of the timing, I decided to withdraw the Mullen Way plan from the commission and declare a hiatus.
However Robert E. Coad, with the help of Mr. Monterosso, filed a request to the Martha's Vineyard Commission to designate Mullen Way a District of Critical Planning Concern (DCPC). A DCPC is a special designation for unique, natural or historical places on the Vineyard that have regional or statewide impact. A DCPC designation freezes property for up to a year while various boards and committees consider regulations to be voted on at town meetings. If approved, these regulations could result in additional restrictions beyond standard zoning laws. A DCPC has never been applied to a small street like Mullen Way.
This is the wrong application of the DCPC process. Mr. Monterosso is clearly using DCPC as a pretext to prevent development of my Mullen Way property. In the nomination, facts have been misstated, painting an inaccurate picture of Mullen Way and the project. Unfortunately, the Vineyard Gazette reported these misstated facts.
I am not a developer. I was simply trying to do the right thing for the neighborhood. Local towns are empowered and fully equipped to handle local issues, rather than allowing spot DCPC zoning when neighbors don't agree.
This Island is a living Island that has evolved over time because towns and neighbors have worked out difficulties according to established rules and regulations. If granted, the DCPC designation will set a very dangerous precedent and would be the first step in a very wrong direction for the Island. It could affect the value and control of all of our properties and potentially have far-reaching, unintended consequences. If the Mullen Way neighborhood qualifies as a DCPC, the same could happen to your neighborhood.
I ask for your help to prevent this inappropriate use of the DCPC process. We must all speak up together at the MVC hearing on Sept. 7, at 7:30 pm, held at 33 New York Avenue, Oak Bluffs, in the MVC stone building offices.
Mr. Monterosso has mobilized a very vocal group who will be there. If this DCPC is allowed, the decision will affect us all, our property, and the future of the Island. Please attend the meeting.
residents oppose DCPC
To the Editor:
As property owners and long-time residents of Mullen Way, we are very concerned about the District of Critical Planning Concern (DCPC) nomination pending before the Martha's Vineyard Commission this week, and the precedent it will set for the future of the Island.
The DCPC nomination has placed an immediate moratorium on our properties, and if the commission votes to impose the designation, new, more restrictive rules will be imposed that could severely limit what we can do with our homes, including any improvements or additions we may build. This could have devastating affects on our property values.
Mullen Way is not in a historic district, and while it is a lovely neighborhood, there is nothing about Mullen Way that distinguishes it from countless other similarly aged neighborhoods on the Island. If a DCPC can apply to our street, it can and will be sought on numerous other streets all over the Island. This will result in spot zoning.
So why a DCPC on Mullen Way? The DCPC was proposed by a handful of neighbors as an end run around a local residential development which had a preliminary approval from the planning board. If granted, it will become a blocking tool for anyone who wants to prevent a neighbor from building anything that didn't meet with their approval. Towns are well equipped to deal with these local issues without having to subject neighboring properties to additional regulations. Edgartown has well-thought-out zoning laws in place, and they should not be supplanted by this tactic. Leave the authority for permits and zoning in the hands of the elected officials of the town boards and not in the hands of the MVC.
A DCPC designation has never been applied to a single street before. Doing so on Mullen Way will set a very dangerous precedent for Martha's Vineyard.
Doug Ward, Doris Ward,
Joe Derby, Hope Sorenson, Estey Teller
To the Editor:
We'd like to express our thanks to the EMTs and Edgartown police officers who responded so quickly and professionally to our call for help last month. These men and women - Kara Shemeth, Julie Lindland, Kelsey Forend-Healy, John Rose, Tony White, Stephanie Immelt, and Jamie Craig - worked closely with the other emergency specialists at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital and MedFlight to save a life.
This is the time of year for many appeals for contributions. It's also a time when the Island's mixed force of volunteers and professionals is often stretched to the limit. Giving to the Martha's Vineyard Association of EMTs, P.O. Box 229, Vineyard Haven 02568, will be our small way of helping these dedicated and skilled men and women get the training and equipment they need to perform their vital tasks.
Donald and Constance Shanor
To the Editor:
I very much like the letter from Thomas Hale in the Aug. 31 Times.
I am in Mr. Hale's age bracket, and I remember the country that we both lived in a long time ago. We loved and respected our country.
Recently, I went to a Wednesday evening meeting at our Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. Wednesday is a singing evening, and we started with the national anthem. I sang it with my whole heart - and realized there were a couple of tears on my cheeks.
We old people love our country - but are ashamed of what our government is doing.
Is this what
To the Editor:
This letter is written in response to Janet Hefler's article in the June 1 issue of the Martha's Vineyard Times about the proposed Cozy Hearth development in Edgartown.
As we lose valuable members of our community due to the skyrocketing costs of housing on Martha's Vineyard, and simultaneously lose irreplaceable natural ecosystems due to development, it is important to clarify the confusion regarding affordable housing projects. Not all developments proposed under the Chapter 40-B statute are the same. They often are not what the layperson visualizes when he/she thinks "affordable housing for Islanders." If they are not carefully scrutinized for what may appear to be details, they are a blight rather than a benefit.
I have lived on Martha's Vineyard for 23 years and have moved seasonally or more often for 13 of them. I am intimately aware of the affordable housing issue. Three years ago I bought my first home. It is in Vineyard Haven. It abutted 4.1 acres of woodland habitat, now the site of Tom Richardson's Fairwinds development. Of course I wish the woodland ecosystem had remained intact as a natural corridor in a relatively densely populated area. This did not happen. The issue here is not that a development was approved, but what type of development was actually built.
Today the woods are gone. I have wonderful new human neighbors, and for this I am grateful. It would be even better if the homes in which they are living had been built with thoughtful planning and appropriate guidelines.
The June 1 issue of The Martha's Vineyard Times had an article about the proposed Cozy Hearth development in Edgartown. To mention Tom Richardson's Fairwinds development in the same article as Bill Bennett's Cozy Hearth and imply that they are similar is misleading. Also, Janet Hefler did not get her facts correct concerning the approval process of Fairwinds.
Cozy Hearth is a proposal by Islanders who got together to be able to continue to afford to live here. The plans call for one and a half story homes of environmentally sound design with state-of-the-art composting septic systems. Each of the 11 proposed houses is on a one-acre lot. The Fairwinds development couldn't be more dissimilar.
Mr. Richardson's original request to the Martha's Vineyard Commission asked for 24 homes to be built on 4.1 acres. Ten buildings, two of them duplexes, were ultimately approved and built. If one were to drive through the project today, one would have to ask, "Where could they have possibly put those other fourteen buildings?" There is barely enough room for the approved 10.
Being a Chapter 40-B development, Fairwinds is partially subsidized by the state. Three of the homes were sold at an affordable price, two at a moderate price, and the remaining seven at market value. Does this sound like an affordable housing project to you?
Contrary to Ms. Hefler's reporting that the Tisbury zoning board of appeals refused to review Mr. Richardson's proposal, many meetings were held, and unfortunately what was finally approved is an atrocity.
The buildings are essentially three and a half stories high and are built on a hillside with no regard to the natural lay of the land or the abutting neighborhood. They literally tower above the pre-existing homes which are mainly one story. To have effective screening would require 50-foot trees, trees taller than in the original oak forest. For abutters, it is like living next to an apartment building in a city rather than in a neighborhood on the Vineyard. The septic systems need to be pumped noisily uphill to be effective. The impact of erosion remains to be seen. When I talked to a zoning board of appeals member about the legality of the decks overlooking neighbor's homes and the walkout basements giving the two and a half story houses an extra story ("details" which have tremendous impact on the abutters), he replied: "We didn't think it was enough of an issue to bring to a larger vote and sooner or later you have to give the developers what they want or they will sue the town."
I imagine being on a town board or the Martha's Vineyard Commission is a thankless job, and I appreciate the members' dedication to the community. I also appreciate certain requirements both boards mandated such as low lighting and shingle siding. As we live with the effects of Fairwinds however, it is obvious both bodies fell short in their abilities to visualize and ensure the outcome. Instead of an affordable housing project for Islanders built with respect for this unique Island, we have the abominable result of what happens when a developer takes advantage of what is essentially a zoning buster and is allowed to exercise his will.
Not all Chapter 40-B developments are Bill Bennett's Cozy Hearth or John Abrams's CoHousing. I encourage all readers to take a walk down Greenwood Avenue Extension and Briarwood Lane in Vineyard Haven and decide for themselves, "Is this what we thought we were getting, and is this what we want?"
Marjorie H. Lau
To the Editor:
I read with much interest the letter written in your Aug. 17 issue by Jack E. Robinson Jr. I found several points made by Mr. Robinson to be poignant and interesting.
As someone who has spent time on this lovely Island during the past 18 years, I do not pretend to understand how local politics works there. I do know that Mr. and Mrs. Robinson run a fine establishment. (My wife and I recently stayed there and were treated fairly and warmly.) It makes no sense to me, based on my personal experience, why Mr. Robinson would be denied the opportunity to expand his business operation. I would encourage the Martha's Vineyard Commission to reconsider the application made by Mr. and Mrs. Robinson to increase an additional eight rooms. I concur with Mr. Robinson that to do so would help "bring some economic relief to the entire Island population" by providing more quality rooms for those of us who cannot afford to live on the Island but rather only visit it.
Local politics set aside, I can see no reason why these fine people are stymied in their desire to better serve people of all racial backgrounds at their Oak Bluffs resort facility. If it is against the "status quo" to allow for this expansion, then the "status quo" is just plain wrong, and a change is long overdue.
Thomas P. Kopetskie
September 11, 2001
To the Editor:
Take this day and burn it into your being, bury it in your heart, never to lose it. Lock it, lock it in your brain to protect it, forever to remember. Consume these endless shades of greens, swallow them deep within. Capture these miles of open fields, broken only by the occasional house or barn of the Ohio Amish. Hold this pure cerulean sky, with its unscathed clouds, clouds only moved about by God's wind. Remember this sky, these fields and colors, remember this. Burn it deep within your being. For all those yet to come, we all must remember this day, so this will never happen again.
It had been a good visit, and as usual I was finding it difficult to say goodbye to my eldest daughter, now living in Minneapolis. She has always been my Sunshine Sarah, something she now draws on to get her through those frigid Minnesota winters. She had dropped me at the curb, flashed me that great sunshine smile and off into the morning traffic she disappeared.
Heavy with luggage and a mother's goodbye heart, I quietly made my way in the silent parade of bodies, each moving toward a numbered gate. It was like any other day of travel, filled with lines and waiting. After becoming bored with the people watching, I found myself slip off into that not really being there state of mind. I would be boarding any minute now, it was just 9 am. My flight's scheduled departure was 9:15. My thoughts meandered to Paul and home. If only wishes could bring me there, back to my little house in my big field, back to the Vineyard, then I could be spared this day of cars, planes, buses, and ferries. I just wanted to be home, back with my girlie dogs and back to Ashbel, tacking her way up and down Vineyard Sound. It was September, my favorite month to be out on the water, and I was looking forward to the summer crowds being gone.
Suddenly, the level of airport drone changed, and I was startled back into real time. Background sounds had skipped a beat and somehow changed their pitch. I shot one quick glance to the overhead TV and just caught the stupefied expression of our President before the screen went blank. Within seconds it then simply read: AIRPORT SECURITY SHUTDOWN....CODE 24.
The sudden silence lasted but one second, ending with a strange and sick symphony, performed by every cell phone in the waiting area, each playing their own little cell phone tune. I remember feeling a slimy roll in my belly. In that one second, somehow each of us at that gate knew something was terribly wrong. We had all, instantly, been pulled out of our airport stupor, and now the entire room full of travelers sat doe-eyed and frozen by this painfully uncomfortable yet unknown fear. Digging into that big black bag I always travel with, I finally found my ringing phone. Before I could even say hello, my usually carefree and calm Paul blurted out, in a frantic bad news voice, really a frightened voice, "Karen...Don't get on that plane.... If you are on it, get off.... did you hear me?" With my mind numb from the strange events unfolding, it was as if I had become somehow disconnected from my body, and I was aware of hearing my voice ask "Paul, what is wrong?" "Did you see it on TV?" he asked. "See what? I answered. "The TVs have all been shut off " I answered. "What is happening? What is wrong?" His reply was "Something horrible is happening, you need to go back and find Sarah right now."
It was September 11, 2001. A day that phones rang and rang and rang. If your someone was there to answer, you were blessed. It was a day that seemed to never end. A two-sided day, clearly divided by good and evil, its dark side cheered in celebration the horror of their destruction. Its light side was bright and pure, a day in which humans took off their heavy cloaks of indifference and joined together to step outside of their individual little worlds. On this day of so much fear and confusion, together, helping each other, stranger to stranger we all reached beyond our comfort zones to claim back and hold high all that is good in man.
For the next five days I traveled. With air travel at a standstill, I ended up renting a car and driving back to the Island. I no longer was a part of that silent parade of people trying to get to their gates, but I was now in a new parade, one marched by thousands of people, each with a newborn clarity in their eyes. Each striving to be kinder and more humane, each painfully aware of the fragile condition of humanity.
I was proud to be one of these travelers. Proud to be able to reach out with all those others and to show there was a bright side in this dark time. Whether it was offering to let a stranger borrow my cell phone or just sitting in a coffee shop and passing a kind smile to a stranger, we all just naturally were a little more aware, a little kinder, a little more humane. My journey back to the Island touched and crossed the paths of many, each just wanting to get home. Slowly I wove my way back to my place, to my home, my Paul and all that is good and safe for me.
Two days before I reached the Vineyard, on day four, air traffic began to fly again. Jet contrails slowly cut across the sky, perfectly clear once more. I drove across field after field of the Amish, across rivers and under bridges, and my little red rental car carried me back. My eyes saw many images, but in my memory of that day it is not one image that I remember, but a color. Deep within my brain, deep within my being, I pray I will forever hold that amazing color forever. It is very simply the color green, the color of the fields of the Ohio Amish, green, the color of life and of new beginnings, a sign of hope.
Today, my memories of that time are still vivid and clear, though only five years have passed since my drive home. So often in today's culture all we hear is the bad things that happen in life. I write this to refresh my memory of this day, so I will never forget the kindness and good that it brought out of us all. I write, not to join the media in what seems to be the every day sensationalism of evil and all that was negative any given day, but to remember that wherever that day caught you, whatever your memory, you will recall the bright side and kindness of which humans are so capable.
Can you help?
To the Editor:
Have you noticed improvements in Vineyard Haven? Let's see that they remain.
More benches for sitting, music outdoors on the corner of Union Street some evenings, landscaping around the Chamber of Commerce kiosk, clean-up of Water Street from the ferry terminal to Five Corners, planted pots in front of Stop & Shop and the Chinese restaurant, more trash barrels and emptied before they overflow, more attention by shop owners to their storefronts. But there is still so much to do.
Some of this has happened since early July when we felt something had to be done for the July 4th holiday, and Marie Desch went to the selectmen's meeting.
The Tisbury Beautification Volunteers are going to try to enlist the help of the Garden Club, the Horticulture Department at the MV High School, Boy/Girl scouts, the Tisbury Business Association, professional landscapers and anyone else who will "adopt" an area of Vineyard Haven (no matter how small) and make sure it stays clean and looks good.
To the Editor:
My name is Ted Dewing. I have been a taxpayer and landowner since 1990. My complaint is about bicyclists on North Water Street, riding their bikes the wrong way on a one-way street.
Edwin P. Dewing
To the Editor:
I would like to extend an invitation to all year-round residents of Oak Bluffs. I am an owner of 27 and 8 Ox Cart Road in Aquinnah. Please feel free to park at these sites to hunt, fish, or just beach it. This is written permission to all Oak Bluffs residents.
David E. Morris Jr.
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to Shep and Ian Murray, Vineyard Vines.
The entire Derby Committee and I thank you for sponsoring the Vineyard Vines fundraiser for our scholarship program at the Outerland on Sunday, Aug. 6. Your generous support and personal donation to the night's proceeds will enable us to award an additional $10,000 in scholarships this coming year to worthy graduates of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School.
Again, thanks so much for this wonderful contribution to the Derby and the students of our Island community.
M. V. Striped Bass
and Bluefish Derby Inc.
Roundabout no solution for cyclists
To the Editor:
With the Alaska pipeline in a state of disrepair we find our leaders in Congress at odds how to deal with it. The Republicans want to drill for oil just about everywhere, and the Democrats seek to place a blame as to why there is a problem in the first place.
If the average motorist who drives 12,000 miles a year were to drive one less mile a day it would see us through any shortages, but God forbid our political leaders would come out and tell people to leave their cars at home.
America makes up five percent of the planet's population, but we consumed over a quarter of the oil produced.
It appears we on this little Island have the same limited foresight in our elected leaders and among planners with in the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
A trickle-down effect, perhaps?
What are these planners planning? They are planning a growth rate of vehicles on this little Island of 1.5 percent per year. They are planning for yet more and more traffic when we are at our limit as it is. The number of vehicles on this Island has doubled in the last 15 years.
One and a half percent per year is a very conservative number.
How long will it be before these folks at the helm come to us yet again for more and more dubious road improvements? How long will it be at this accelerating rate before they tell us we need to add a lane or two to the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven road?
Mark London pooh-poohs anyone who finds fault in the MVC's very slanted report toward building a roundabout. The problem is that there are too many cars on this Island.
We have had two so-called public meetings for the roundabout. The first one earlier in the season was at 3:30 in the afternoon and poorly attended. I publicly asked Duncan Ross at that meeting if we could have the next one at a more appropriate time so that more people could attend. He assured me that the next meeting would be at a better time.
The second meeting a few weeks back with only slightly more people was now at 3 pm.
So much for a better time. Mr. London is now calling the first meeting, one specifically for abutters and now our selectmen are planning an up or down vote at their next meeting.
It appears that some of our Oak Bluffs selectmen and Mr. London are giving us the Old Bums' Rush.
It's time to reevaluate these people and where they are taking us.
As a member of the joint transportation committee representing bicyclists and pedestrians, I was the only one to vote against it the first time the roundabout came up and was finally abandoned in 2004.
I was told at that time to "get over it, that it was a done deal." At this present time, I am one of two JTC members who voted against it.
Mr. London has increased the speed at which vehicles will pass through this roundabout.
Initially it was 10 to 12 mph, and now it has crept up to 15 to 20 mph. He now calls it "bicycle speed."
He states how safe it will be to cross the roundabout as a cyclist or pedestrian, but he doesn't even ride a bike.
Our selectmen and Mr. London will compromise the safety of cyclists and pedestrians to accommodate yet more cars.
Try to cross at any marked crossing on this Island, whether it be pushing a bicycle or as a pedestrian, and tell me how safe it will be. We have some of the most aggressive drivers that I have ever experienced on this Island. The roundabout will only make it worse because no one will be stopping.
The problem of safety for cyclists and pedestrians has not been resolved.
This is not a blizzard. It is not a hurricane. Nor a tsunami. It is not some thing we cannot control and then have to live with. It's traffic.
A sister missed
To the Editor:
My sister Clara is greatly missed. She was always ready to go gallery hopping, attend concerts and musicals - a wonderful outlet.
Many a trip to New York to see the N.E. Opera Co. still bring great memories.
When we were growing up, I did all the boo-boos and Clara was just the opposite.
It was still true up until the time she had to stay at home and I had an incurable, undetected cough (according to the MDs) that no one knew about, but I did. I wouldn't dream of infecting an already ill woman - heaven help me - and at last, with acupuncture and kinesiology I am getting rid of that, but Clara is gone, and I can't believe it.
It just seems wrong that I'm here and she's not.
Clara M. Burke was a fine person inside and out.
I know she is finally rid of all her suffering and is at peace - I'm sure I will see her soon.
In memory of Clara Burke, who died May 31, 2006.
Alice D. Coutinho