Six affordable lots awarded to Oak Bluffs residents
In a Martha's Vineyard version of a happily ever after story, six long-time Oak Bluffs residents won the opportunity Tuesday evening to buy building lots in their hometown for a price well below market value.
The resident homesite lottery drawing was the first item on the agenda at the Oak Bluffs selectmen's meeting Tuesday. Applicants and their families packed the library meeting room, filling all available chairs and lining the walls.
Six lots were available, and selectmen Greg Coogan and Duncan Ross took turns plucking names out of the antique swinging bell box, on loan from Tisbury. Selectman Kerry Scott chose the lots to go with winning entrants.
Rachel Dinning, Damien Harris, Albert Clements Jr., William Howell, Doreen Marino, and Leigh Yuen now have the opportunity to buy their assigned parcels for $25,000 each. Five alternates were chosen for each of the six lotteries.
Arms shot into the air and whoops of joy echoed through the room when the names were drawn. But at the end, there were heads that hung and the looks of disappointment on the faces of those who were not chosen.
Thirty-one candidates submitted applications, according to Jim Rankin, president of the resident homesite committee. All 31 were put into the box for the first drawing, which required five years of residency with one year current. Fifteen names were in the lottery that required 20 years of residency, and 10 names for each of the municipal drawings, which were reserved for town employees.
Applications for the lottery were due July 14, and many applicants faced problems throughout the process. Due to a specific town bylaw, in order to be eligible for the lottery, applicants had to prove at least five years of residency in Oak Bluffs, with one of those years being current. Due to the nature of the program, many applicants had moved around the Island and had trouble with the current residency requirement.
At the selectmen's meeting two weeks ago, the board heard the appeals of five applicants who were denied due to small technicalities, but all were returned to the lottery pool.
Rachel Dinning was one of the appellants whose name was returned to the lottery, and also the first one chosen Tuesday for the lot at 13 Sunset Avenue. When Mr. Rankin read Ms. Dinning's name from the card, her hand went to her mouth and her eyes welled with tears.
"I knew when he said my first name there were no others Rachels, but it felt like it took him forever to get my whole name out," she said the day after the drawing. "I had to call back today and ask which lot it was, because my mind shut down after that."
Ms. Dinning is a compliance officer at the Dukes County Savings Bank and has lived on the Island since she was a child. Now with two young girls of her own, she was worried about her future on the Island due to the high cost of real estate.
"It's terrible to think about leaving your home and the place you feel safe and secure with all your friends and family, but at some point you have to think about your own family," Ms. Dinning said.
She said she plans to move forward with accepting the offer, securing a mortgage, and building a home. "It made all my dreams come true."
In other business
The selectman had a light agenda after the resident homesite lottery, and most people filtered out after the six drawings.
Herb Putnam, a longtime Oak Bluffs restaurateur, was granted a seasonal liquor license for a new 150-seat restaurant he plans to open this spring at 9 Oak Bluffs Avenue. Mr. Putnam managed Balance, a Circuit Avenue eatery for six years, and Pomodoro.
His request for a liquor license was met with some disparaging remarks from resident David Morris.
"I'm against this from a business standpoint, not a personal standpoint," Mr. Morris said. "Before you keep expanding the business district you have to fix what you have."
Mr. Morris said the lack of parking and traffic control in downtown Oak Bluffs is out of control, and that the town is "turning into one continuous bar and restaurant."
The selectmen agreed that the lack of parking is a problem, but not one that would be exacerbated by granting the liquor license.
The board also accepted the regular and executive session minutes from their Oct. 10 meeting, and designated members of the Cottage City Historic District Commission as special town employees.