Generators and containers on West Tisbury warrant

Bylaw changes seek to regulate generators and cargo containers, and ban helium balloons.

West Tisbury town hall closed Thursday due to a positive COVID-19 test. -Rich Saltzberg

On April 10, West Tisbury voters will gather at the West Tisbury School at 7 pm to decide whether to amend zoning bylaws to regulate electric generators. Article 48 on the 2018 annual warrant seeks to reduce the neighborhood noise from generators with setback requirements, screening requirements, and strictures on what days and times of day generators can be test-cycled.

Should the bylaw pass, generators may only be tested weekly Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm. The bylaw stipulates generators must be screened to keep them from public view, and to help deaden the noise they make. The bylaw requires a special permit from the zoning board of appeals if lot configuration prohibits a generator from being sited with the proper setbacks.

A second section of the bylaw allows for the use of portable generators on construction sites or in situations where power is lost. The regulations for fixed generators, as written in the warrant, are not repeated for portable generators.

The bylaw is recommended by the finance committee.

The 56-article warrant contains a number of budgetary items, many for relatively modest figures. Some of the heftier monetary requests include Article 35, a $520,000 appropriation from free cash to reduce the 2019 fiscal tax levy, and Article 3, a $400,000 Proposition 2½ override to defray costs in the upcoming fiscal budget. If approved at town meeting, Article 3 is contingent on successful passage of a ballot question on April 12 at the annual town election (voting is from 7 am to 8 pm at the Public Safety Building, also known as the main fire station, on State Road).

Article 32 requests $300,000 from the Community Preservation undesignated reserve fund to be used for emergency reserve by the Affordable Housing Trust, should an affordable home be in danger of foreclosure ($250,000) and to cover various fees and charges the trust may incur going forward ($50,000).

Both the fire and police departments have vehicle acquisition articles on the warrant. Article 11 seeks $60,000 for a new ride for the fire chief. The vehicle “will be set up for any mass-casualty calls or incidents, with radios in the back for Fire & Police & EMS to be able to run a Unified Incident Command Vehicle,” the article states.

Article 5 asks for $44,215 to buy a four-wheel-drive police cruiser and to appropriately dispose of an old one.

Voters will also be asked to decide on substantial regulations for cargo containers in the town’s mixed business and light industrial zones. Article 49 seeks to require a special permit for containers that remain on a property for over 90 days. Among other things, the bylaw demands containers not be stacked, be free of graffiti, and not be used to store hazardous materials without fire department consent. The bylaw defines the maximum allowable dimensions of containers and the minimum gauge of the aluminum or steel they are constructed with. It also forbids containers as retail spaces.

And on an Island where black-market bedrooms abound, it should come as no surprise to voters the bylaw prohibits using containers as residences, or even being situated on a lot that contains a residence. Or even possessing the trappings of a residence: “Containers that have been factory built with any electrical, plumbing, heating or air-conditioning systems shall not be allowed.”

The article is not recommended by the finance committee. Articles 48 and 49 require a two-thirds majority to pass.

Sea turtles may rejoice as much as birthday partygoers mope if the boom gets lowered on balloons.

Article 53, a petition initiative, seeks to create a new anti-balloon bylaw. Except for scientific purposes, release of a lighter-than-air balloon in West Tisbury would be illegal and subject to a $100 penalty.

The proposed bylaw is an initiative sponsored by West Tisbury School students, and is recommended by the finance committee.