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Chilmark voters approve swimming pool bylawAt a special town meeting Monday night that saw approval of all 14 articles on the warrant, Chilmark voters approved a pool-heating bylaw and a land swap that will generate four affordable housing lots.
Chilmark voters agreed by a standing vote of 65-15 to amend the town zoning bylaw rules for swimming pools to require a non-polluting technology for heating the pools. Although the bylaw mentions solar and geothermal as acceptable methods for pool heating, Tim Lasker, speaking for the planning board, said any non-polluting technology may be allowed. The bylaw change required a two-thirds vote in favor.
Jay Lagemann was the only critic of the zoning change. He argued that the rule was targeted at a small group of property owners, while exempting the larger Chilmark population from a more broadly aimed effort to change the way townspeople use energy from older technologies that use fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases.
"I mean, to require solar, why not require all of us to have solar hot water heaters? But that would offend some people. What I hear is that this will get through because how many people in the room have pools."
Mr. Lagemann said he is of the pool owning fraternity. He suggested that merely covering a swimming pool when it is not in use and especially at night will conserve energy and consequently reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He said he could support a rule requiring pools to have covers.
Mr. Lasker said pool covers are fine and may qualify as "non-polluting" technologies under the amended bylaw. He added that this rule is just the beginning by the planning board to improve Chilmark's energy efficiency and reduce its contribution of greenhouse gases. "It's a way to show people our concern about protecting the environment," Mr. Lasker said.
Edward Miller wanted to know if hot tubs would be regulated by the changed by law, but the answer required an exploration of the definition of a swimming pool as it is referred to in the zoning regulations. Warren Doty, a selectman, but not a lawyer, provided a layman's approach to navigating the zoning issue. He said that the zoning bylaw required a special permit for a pool, but not for a hot tub. So, if you need or have received a special permit, "you have a pool. Otherwise, it's a hot tub."
Mr. Lagemann's request that a written ballot be taken on the issue had no second.
The selectmen amended an article requesting $1,000 from available funds to study the rehabilitation of the tiny harbormaster's shack at Menemsha. The amended article, passed by voice vote, allows the selectmen to use the funds to consider what to do about the harbormaster's building and also a building offered for sale to the town by Louis Larsen Jr., which might be used for the benefit of Menemsha commercial fishermen. Plans for both projects would return to town meeting for approval.
Voters also approved three articles which would pave the way for a three-way land swap agreement that would result in four new affordable home lots, 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 land swap still needs an act of the state legislature.
Spending requests approved by voters included: $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.