Chilmark voters spend quickly at special town meeting

Voters approved all 10 articles on the special town meeting warrant in 17 minutes.

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The Chilmark special town meeting saw light attendance Monday night. Photo by Edie Prescott.

Chilmark voters, led by long-time moderator Everett Poole, breezed through special town meeting Monday night. Voters approved all 10 articles on the warrant with almost no discussion.

Attendance was light. A total of 67, or 7 percent of the town’s 921 registered voters, turned out to attend to town business.

Prior to the start of the meeting, Chris Murphy offered this assessment: “I think tonight’s rather peaceful, but you never know.”

Nine of ten articles passed unanimously and without discussion.

A $6,000 request for a new boat for the harbor department, the only article on the warrant not recommended by the Finance Committee, drew a few scattered no votes.

A request for $20,000 to increase the hours worked by the assistant shellfish constable produced the only extended comment of the night.

“We’ve had great success with our shellfish production for the past couple of years,” Mr. Doty said.  “Last year at this time we were having a very good scallop season and our scallop fleet landed about $500,000 worth of scallops.  We’ve added aquaculture grants for oyster growing and we hope we can boost our oyster production up to a million oysters each year. All of these projects require a lot more supervision and we urge you all to vote for it.”

The meeting began with two reports.

Planning board member Janet Weidner gave a biannual report on the results of the new residential building size bylaw approved in April 2013 that set limits on the size of residential structures.

Ms. Weidner said that since the new bylaw went into effect the average size of new residences have been reduced by 40 percent, the total square footage of construction activity has been reduced by about 46 percent, and the number of projects (such as additions, renovations, and guest houses) has been reduced by about 10 percent.

Voters also took a moment to honor planning board member Dan Greenbaum. Town leaders praised his tireless work for the town on various committees over the years. He recently resigned from the planning board due to illness.  

“The planning board members would like to take this opportunity to thank Dan Greenbaum for his work as a member of the Chilmark planning board for the last 4-and-a-half years,” Ms. Weidner said, “including work on the planning board subcommittee to help craft the building size bylaw.”  Ms. Weidner thanked him for his humor, his open mind during discussions, and his keen attention to the public’s concerns.

Selectman Warren Doty, speaking on behalf of the selectmen, said, “We would like to thank Dan for his service to the town and his hours and hours of devotion to all of the processes we have gone through the past couple of years.”  Applause followed.

Mr. Poole said, “I remember Dan very well when we played together as little kids.  He was smart then and he’s smart now.”

Voters approved requests for money to improve Tea Lane; a $10,000 request for a needs assessment of the aging comfort station to see if it should be renovated or repaired; a $10,000 request for a parking and traffic plan for the troubled Menemsha beach area; a $16,000 request to replace seven power pedestals at the West Yacht dock floats; a $2,000 request to replace the incinolet toilet at the Tabor House Road park and ride lot; and payment of outstanding bills.

“Oh it went very well,” selectman Jonathan Mayhew told The Times at the  conclusion of the meeting.

“It was nice to pay tribute to a good public servant, Dan Greenbaum,” Chairman Bill Rossi told The Times.  “Other than that it was pretty quick.”

“I expected a little more discussion,” Executive Secretary Tim Carroll told The Times.  “We try to provide information ahead of time.  It seems the more information we put out there, the faster the meeting goes.”

Police Chief Brian Cioffi summed up the timeline.  “If it weren’t for the biannual review, that might have been the shortest meeting we’ve ever had.  Everett wanted to be home by 8 o’clock – I think he’s there.”

The town meeting began at 7:30pm and was adjourned at 7:47pm.