Chilmark moves Middle Line project
The Chilmark selectmen Tuesday moved the Middle Line Path affordable housing project forward by agreeing to hire a survey engineer to lay out the project's lots and septic system.
Selectman Warren Doty, the board's point man on the project, said Conservation Preservation Act (CPA) funds can be used for the work, based on advice from town counsel Ronald Rappaport. He said Mr. Rappaport learned from the Department of Revenue that the whole process of developing the land may be done with CPA funds, regardless of how many lots fall under the CPA guidelines. Mr. Doty said it is not known yet how many lots will fall under the guidelines.
The town appropriated $212,000 for the initial costs of surveying, engineering, and architectural design for the project, of which $191,000 remains. The surveying work is exempt from the public bidding process, Mr. Doty said, so the project implementation committee expects to hire Vineyard Land Surveying to do the work. The company had prepared the topographical maps.
"We can move the project ahead. It's one more step," Mr. Doty said. The housing will be built on a 21-acre town- owned parcel, which will be divided into seven lots, with six for resident home sites and the seventh for six rental units and open space.
The board deferred a decision on whether to ask the Martha's Vineyard Commission for a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) review of the property. Mr. Doty said the request needs to go before the MVC's land use planning committee on Dec. 18.
Selectman Frank Fenner Jr. said he was reluctant to go along with the designation, saying, "If there is any way feasible not to designate a DRI, I'd be thrilled."
The selectmen looked at copies of the DRI regulations that identify projects with 10 dwellings as qualifying for DRI status. They were not sure if this housing project qualifies, and they continued the meeting until Thursday morning in order to consider advice from Mr. Rappaport on the matter.
In another matter expected to draw some reaction from residents, the selectmen considered a written request from Leslie Weiss, beach committee chairman, to increase the price of town beach stickers next year. She proposed increasing the stickers for Lucy Vincent Beach from $75 to $100 and for Squibnocket Beach from $35 to $45.
Mr. Fenner agreed with the need to increase costs, considering the budget. "We've got to make up the $54,000 shortfall somehow," he said.
But executive secretary Timothy Carroll warned the selectmen that they should expect an outcry from year-round residents about the $100 charge. He recommended advertising the new rates for the selectmen's Dec. 19 meeting agenda to allow public comment, which the board agreed to do.
After a brief discussion on next year's budget process, the board decided to adopt a zero-based process that would require all department heads to justify any increases.
Mr. Carroll said that using the process would be a more lengthy one, requiring department heads to explain every line item.
Harbor master Dennis Jason provided information related to the board's recent decision to allocate two boat slips for two large yachts on the channel side of west dock of Menemsha Harbor, which is normally reserved for commercial and transient boats.
Mr. Jason said he received a letter from Paul DeJesus, who expressed concern about the allocation of the two slips, saying that the only place for his 75-foot yacht, Perfect Timing, was on the channel side of the dock. He was worried that he was "now squeezed out by the two boats," Mr. Jason said.
Mr. DeJesus wants a slip for 14 days in July and asked for some leeway on the rule that allows a transient boat to dock for only 14 days and requires it to leave for a week before returning. The selectmen said Mr. De Jesus is "skirting the regulations" and must follow them. "The purpose is to promote turnover and make the dock available to as many as possible," selectman Riggs Parker said.
Mr. Jason said he had also heard from Robert Congdon, owner of Escapade, one of the two yachts given the option of moving to the channel side of the dock. "He's not thrilled with the $7,500 fee," Mr. Jason said. He said Mr. Congdon would prefer to stay on the resident side of the dock where he has been.
Brent Bandi reported on repairs and other improvements needed for the Menemsha Harbor area for next year, including installing a baby changing station in the restrooms and replacing light fixtures. He also cited the board of health's recommendations to install a larger septic tank for the restrooms and to consider ways to reduce water use. Mr. Carroll will put together a list of the recommendations for the budget process.
Responding to a request from county officials, the selectmen recommended issues for the county to address. Mr. Parker offered his idea for reducing gasoline prices on the Island - establishing a fuel terminal that would offer gasoline to all the Island stations at the same cost plus transportation fees.
"That way the public could tell what the stations are charging," over and above their costs, he said. He also said that such a terminal would get fuel trucks off the ferries. Mr. Fenner said the proposal could be extended to include fuel oil.
Mr. Parker acknowledged such a project would be a large challenge. "We need fuel facilities and we'll need them forever," he said. "I'm not sure it can be done by any one town."
Other items the selectmen proposed for county consideration included Island-wide fisheries development and energy use, health and general insurance, engineering help and sheriff's department expenses.
The board approved the appointment of Virginia Dyer as a full-time member of the Conservation Commission. She has been an alternate.