Chilmark selectmen finalize warrant for special town meeting

The focus will be on the Squibnocket Beach plan.

From left, Selectman Warren Doty, Chairman Bill Rossi, Selectman Johnathan Mayhew and Secretary Tim Carroll, share a light moment while listening to Jessica Roddy highlight the accessory-apartment bylaw issue that was approved to be included in the April town meeting warrant. — Photo by Edie Prescott

Chilmark selectmen Tuesday approved an eight-article warrant for a special town meeting scheduled for Monday, Feb. 2, at which voters will be asked to take action on a complex and expensive plan, hammered out by a specially appointed town committee, to preserve the Squibnocket Beach parking lot and access to the Squibnocket Farms subdivision in the face of continuing erosion.

“It’s wonderful that we’ve had unimpeded access to that section of the beach for the past many many years,” selectman Warren Doty said, “but from my point of view, we need to nail that down and have it legally committed for the next 50 years, or however long it is, that we have a legal right, not just a privilege that the landowner gives us, to that beach frontage.”

Also Tuesday, selectmen agreed to place an accessory-apartments bylaw on the April annual town meeting warrant. Housing committee member Jessica Roddy provided selectmen with a summary of the bylaw provisions. Accessory apartments must be occupied year-round, and are limited in use to a homeowner’s parents, children, in-laws, caregiver, or a Dukes County-approved affordable housing candidate. One exception to year-round occupancy is made if a seasonal resident brings his own caregiver. “I’m glad that’s happening,” chairman Bill Rossi said.

Selectmen took no action on a county request to help fund the purchase of the former VNA building for use as a home for the Center for Living.  “We’re looking at a couple of different properties,” Mr. Rossi said, noting that the purchase and operation would be supported by all the towns.

“The program is a very needed program,” said Mr. Doty.  “We are an aging population but that said, it’s expensive.”

Selectmen declined to add an article related to a new public safety building to the February warrant. Mr. Doty said he favors the very visible spot of the current police department in the old school but added, “There is no question we need a new firehouse and an ambulance barn.”

Selectmen approved the appointment of Jesse Burton as a new full-time patrolman. Mr. Burton has been a federal air marshal for the past five years. “It was one of those situations where we had good applicants,” said Mr. Doty. “It was a very rewarding interview process for me.”