Third time’s the charm for West Tisbury annual town meeting

West Tisbury voters met Tuesday and approved all remaining articles on the annual town meeting warrant.

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Town moderator Dan Waters at last year's West Tisbury town meeting. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Exceeding a quorum by a healthy number, close to 200 West Tisbury voters met Tuesday night and took almost two hours to pass the seven articles that remained on the unfinished annual town meeting warrant. Following an initial four-and-a-half-hour meeting on April 15, and a failed attempt to reach a quorum on the second night of town meeting last Wednesday, town moderator Dan Waters was finally able to gavel the end of annual town meeting.

Mr. Waters began the meeting by leading the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday,” to celebrate the town’s 123 years since its secession from the town of Tisbury. Lengthy discussions over several amendments, which clarified issues but left the basic articles unchanged, kept most voters in their seats until almost nine o’clock.

Voters passed a zoning-bylaw change to increase the size of permitted guesthouses from 800 square feet to 1,000 square feet, and accessory apartments from 500 to 800 square feet. The article was amended to allow freestanding accessory apartments rather than just attached accessory structures, which are often above garages.

Several voters who spoke in favor of the article said that the existing size restrictions did not allow for comfortable living spaces, and that more people are using the structures to house relatives who may have difficulty using second-floor apartments.

Voters amended an article to require the posting of street addresses on buildings, and on a pole in those cases where the buildings cannot easily be seen from the road, to eliminate the requirement that the address be affixed to a building. Map and lot numbers may also be posted, but are not required. The measure, intended to aid public safety personnel in responding to emergencies, passed by a vote of 184 to 6.

By the required two-thirds majority, voters designated as special ways parts of Pine Hill Road, Red Coat Hill Road/Motts Hill Road, Shubael Weeks Road, and Old Coach Road. The special way designation puts in place an overlay of regulation intended to restrict development and prevent the ways from being paved or blocked.

Voters also approved articles that tighten up the language of the zoning bylaws and eliminate regulations already covered by state law, and authorized selectmen to enter into an intermunicipal agreement with the county to provide services for the elderly.