West Tisbury selectmen add fire-alarm permit fee, consider tent fee

File photo by Kelsey Perrett

West Tisbury selectmen at their meeting on Sept. 24 unanimously approved a request by building inspector Joseph Tierney to institute a $50 fee for fire-alarm inspections. Selectmen also discussed but took no action on a request to set a fee for tent inspections of the type often erected for special events.

Mr. Tierney said the other Island towns already charge $50 for the inspections. “The baseline is that we are supposed to be charging a fee to cover the services we are providing,” he told the selectmen.

The fire-alarm inspection fee will be added to the building permit fee, $700 for dwellings and $400 for additions, Mr. Tierney told The Times. “The building department and the fire department are involved with reviewing the inspections,” he said. “It’s taking up more time.”

The electrical inspector is also sometimes required to provide an inspection, he added.

Chairman of the board of selectmen Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter said he was not happy with the idea of additional fees. “I just hate all these fees we are charging,” he said before he voted to approve the request.

Mr. Tierney also requested selectmen approve a fee for tent permits. He suggested $25. He said anyone who sets up a tent of more than 400 square feet, or smaller tents with a combined total of more than 700 square feet, is required by state law to apply for a tent permit.

He said tents must be inspected by the building department, and that some installations, those with generators, also require an electrical permit and an inspection by the electrical inspector. Some also require an inspection by the fire chief, and if food is being prepared, must be inspected by the board of health agent.

Selectmen put the question of tent permit fees on hold until research is done to see what the other Island towns are charging.

Selectman Richard Knabel expressed consternation at the increasing number of state regulations and permit requirements in general. “I find this not acceptable,” he said.

“What are we coming to?” Mr. Manter added.

Mr. Tierney told The Times the tent rules went into effect in November 2011 and came to his attention while he completed his education to become a fully licensed building inspector.

In other business, the selectmen accepted the gift of a piano from the Friends of the West Tisbury Library purchased from the estate of David Frantz who died in February. Mr. Frantz was a violinist and violist with Vineyard Sinfonietta, and worked at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in instrument design and testing before opening his own company, Ocean Research Equipment, on the Vineyard.

“It is a lovely gift for the library,” selectman Cynthia Mitchell said.

The Duke County Regional Housing Authority (DCRHA), in a letter to the selectmen, requested that West Tisbury’s share of the annual DCRHA assessment be included in the annual budget rather than appear on the annual town-meeting warrant as an article to be voted on separately.

Mr. Manter said a warrant-article request makes it easier for voters to recognize the assessment. Ms. Mitchell said that the budget is gone over pretty carefully line by line by the selectmen, the finance committee, and many voters. “It makes good sense to put it in as a budget item,” she said. Ms. Mitchell included the town’s contribution to the Vineyard Health Care Access Program in a motion to approve the DCRHA request. Mr. Knabel and Ms. Mitchell voted for the motion. Mr. Manter abstained.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the estate of David Frantz donated a piano to the West Tisbury Library. The piano was purchased from the Frantz estate and donated by the Friends of the West Tisbury Library.