Chilmark will decide land swap
The summer season at an end, Chilmark voters will settle down to business and gather for a special town meeting Monday. Solar pool heating and a land swap designed to generate affordable housing lots are among the issues Chilmarkers will be asked to consider on the 14-article warrant.
The special town meeting begins at 7:30 pm in the Chilmark Community Center.
The meeting's headliner, according to Chilmark selectmen, is spread out over three articles at the end of the warrant.
Passage of the three articles would pave the way for a three-way land swap agreement concluded last month that would result in four new affordable home lots, create new conservation land and trails in Chilmark, and consolidate a private landowner's property holdings.
The complex deal involves land off Middle Road and land bordering South Road.
The Hillman family gave up land it owns on South Road. Part of that land, which is bisected by Ridge Hill Road, will be used to create four one-acre, perpetually affordable housing lots.
The remainder of the South Road parcel will be owned by the Land Bank, nearly tripling its current acreage in the area. Trail easements that will create better access to the Tiasquam River Reservation are also part of the deal.
A 4.8-acre parcel off Middle Road - part of which is now owned by the Town of Chilmark, and part of which is owned by the Land Bank - would be transferred to the Hillman family. The family currently owns an abutting parcel to the west.
Public passage over the Hillman property will be preserved by a trail easement. A trail will be moved from the middle to the edge of the family's land.
The land swap still needs an act of the state legislature.
Selectman Frank Fenner, who represented the town during three years of negotiation with the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank and the Hillman family, said, "Obviously, I am very much in favor of this property switch. I think this is a situation where we have gone into an agreement where everybody has some gain from it, especially the town. We get a chance to leverage up from one affordable housing lot to four, which is a major interest of mine and I really believe that this is something that is beneficial to the town in the long run."
Selectman J.B. Riggs Parker said he supports passage of all three articles. "I think that this is a very creative land use solution to a number of problems that serves the town, the Land Bank, and affordable housing very well," he said.
Warren Doty, chairman of the Chilmark selectmen, said it is important that people turn out to support the three articles. "We have worked on this particular project, Frank Fenner's been the lead on it, and to come up with four resident homesites in one exchange is a very big deal for us."
Apart from the land swap, the warrant includes a request to amend the town's zoning bylaws with regard to how homeowners may heat their swimming pools.
The proposed bylaw change would require a special permit for the installation of a pool heating system. Heated pools would only be permitted if solar thermal, geothermal or another alternative non-polluting system provided the heat.
The proposed bylaw change arose from an earlier planning board discussion about ways Chilmark could limit and regulate energy use. At a public hearing last month, alternative energy supporters agreed that a pool heating bylaw was a good start.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a solar pool heating system usually costs between $3,000 and $4,000 to buy and install and can significantly reduce swimming pool heating costs.
Several articles pertain to Menemsha Harbor. They include a request to appropriate from available funds $12,000 to replace 70 deck planks on the fill, or west, dock driveway and one piling on the floating dock, and $1,000 to pay for design drawings for a multi-purpose building to replace the harbormaster's shack.
At an Oct. 16 meeting, Louis Larsen Jr., owner of the Net Result Fish Market in Tisbury, suggested that the town purchase the building he owns and use it to house a fish buyer and ice machine.
Mr. Larsen's building is located on one of nine lots the town currently leases along the town bulkhead to businesses that include Larsen's Fish Market, Menemsha Texaco, and individual fishermen. The town leases seven smaller lots on the east side of the spit of land that divides Menemsha Basin from Menemsha Creek. Rents for the lots range from $10 to $900 a year.
Mr. Doty said that the building, wherever it is located, could be used to provide ice and a cooler for fishermen, be available as a shucking shed in the winter for what he expects will be a renewed scallop fishery, and house a fish buyer.
Told that his description sounds like a co-operative, Mr. Doty, a former fish wholesaler, said, "It is in many ways."
Mr. Fenner, who provided an initial sketch of what a proposed multi-purpose building might look like, told The Times this week that there were differing opinions at the meeting last week and some dissension. He said the goal is to come up with a plan that can be presented at the annual town meeting. "It just seems to me that the right thing to do is to try and look at it with an open mind and present the voters with some options," he said.
Also water-related, Chilmark taxpayers will be asked to share the cost to repair the Squibnocket Beach parking lot revetment with the Squibnocket Home Owners Association. Voters will be asked to appropriate $17,000 for the work to repair storm damage.
The Chilmark Community Center, where voters will meet Monday night, will also be the subject of two spending request. Taxpayers will be asked to spend $7,500 to replace the roof over the Community Center kitchen and spend $17,000 to build a vestibule to protect the front doors from the elements.
"The doors on the front of the community center keep getting wind blown," said Mr. Doty, "and there is no protection from the rain. We replaced the doors just four years ago and they are already terrible."
The Community Preservation Fund will get some attention. Voters will be asked to reserve estimated annual revenues in the amounts that follow: $35,377 for open space; $35,377 for historical preservation; $35,377 for housing; and $247,638 to the community preservation budgeted reserve.
Additional spending requests include: $251,689 to resurface and repair a portion of North Road; $9,500 for repairs to the Cross Road Fire Station; and $6,700 to replace the fuel oil tank in the basement of the old Menemsha School, now the Police station.