Energy DCPC added to West Tisbury warrant
Despite some questions and concerns, West Tisbury selectmen last week agreed to place an article on the annual spring town meeting warrant that has as its goal the creation of regulations designed to curb Island energy use and promote energy self-sufficiency.
The warrant article is part of a larger effort to enlist Vineyard towns in the creation of an Island-wide energy conservation District of Critical Planning Concern (DCPC) that would fall under the superseding authority of the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC), the Island's powerful land use regulatory body.
Town boards, taxpayer groups and the MVC may nominate critical districts. The MVC initially votes to consider a nomination. The next step is a vote on whether to accept the nomination, followed by the creation of new regulations that must be approved by voters at town meeting. The entire process may take up to one year and includes a moratorium on building that allows for exceptions by special permit.
At their regular weekly meeting, selectmen approved a modified version of a proposal circulated by Aquinnah selectman James Newman, one of the leaders of the DCPC effort. The language of the article placed on the warrant by West Tisbury creates a preliminary step.
West Tisbury architect and energy consultant Kate Warner, backed by the West Tisbury energy committee, presented selectmen with proposed language. It asks voters to support the selectmen's appointment of three representatives to an Island-wide advisory group responsible for drafting a nomination with proposed guidelines and regulations for an Island-wide energy DCPC.
Ms. Warner said the DCPC would support energy conservation in new or renovated structures. When the selectmen asked for specifics on what the DCPC would include, Ms. Warner said she would like the Martha's Vineyard Commission to adopt a more stringent building code.
"It would be the easiest thing to do and make it clear from the beginning," she said. The energy proponents would also like to see adoption of renewable energy systems for houses over a certain size, she said.
Ms. Warner's energy group has been seeking support for the DCPC from all Island towns. In addition to West Tisbury, Aquinnah and Tisbury voters will consider articles to create an energy DCPC.
The energy DCPC will not be on Edgartown's annual town meeting warrant this spring. Edgartown selectmen said that because the DCPC proposal is a zoning issue it was referred to the planning board for a public hearing in keeping with town policy.
Ms. Warner told West Tisbury selectmen that a warrant article would be valuable to her cause, which she called a growing issue. "It gets the idea out there and some discussion," she said. "This is more substantial. This would have the best chance of getting to the next step."
The selectmen asked her what would happen to the energy DCPC if all the towns didn't approve it. She said it might be possible to keep the district intact for specific towns, but the question would be a matter for lawyers.
Ms. Warner said the regulations for the Island-wide plan could take up to a year to be drafted, and would be sent back to the towns for a two-thirds town meeting approval.