End of year amendment greenlights Yellow House project

Construction may begin by year’s end.

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Watch this space: changes coming sooner than you thought! — Martha's Vineyard Times

After crossing their T’s and dotting their I’s on historic and conservation restrictions for the Yellow House, Edgartown made one last amendment to their lease, giving the project’s developers the green light to start renovation.

At their meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 26, selectmen Arthur Smadbeck and Margaret Serpa signed off on the minor amendment, which adjusted the start dates for Christopher Celeste and his daughter Julia Celeste, who operate as Summer & Main LLC. The town took the property by eminent domain in July of 2017. Selectman Mike Donaroma was absent.

The Celestes were allowed to begin construction on the small house that sits on the property on Monday. Construction on the main Yellow House is slated to begin Oct. 3.

Town counsel Ron Rappaport told selectmen the Celestes were ready to begin construction when the lease was signed in October, but the town still needed to outline the historic and conservation restrictions. With the restrictions signed, the Celestes can now move forward with the project.

“This has been quite an exercise,” Rappaport said. “I think we did great getting it done before the end of the year.”

Selectmen were equally satisfied, breathing several sighs of relief for the project that has been many years in the making. They also thanked Rappaport for his service.

In other business, Doug Finn of the Edgartown planning board proposed bylaw changes for reviewing and adding conditions to potential marijuana-use establishments.

Town zoning currently allows for marijuana-use establishments, but there is no regulation to govern the placement of the establishments. Finn proposed that they meet the same requirements of any other retail store. The proposed regulation would change the zoning bylaw to limit retail floor space to no more than 2,500 square feet, limit the number of marijuana retail shops to one or two, prohibit living space in a marijuana shop, prohibit the placement of a marijuana shop within 500 feet of a school or playground, and prohibit drive-through service.

If someone wants to open a marijuana retail shop they would need a Host Community Agreement (HCA) approval from the board of selectmen who can then add conditions about what kind of shop they want in town, including placing a tax of up to three percent tax (over five years), on all retail sales. Money raised by this three percent tax would then go toward expenses incurred by the shop such as a town-mandated anti-drug training program, additional health inspections, or police training.

Separate from the HCA tax, the town could also have an up to three percent local option tax that would last in perpetuity. To adopt the tax, the town would have to add it as a warrant article and get approval from town voters at the annual town meeting.

A public hearing for the zoning bylaw ends on Jan. 22, 2019. After that, town voters would decide on the bylaw change at annual town meeting in April.

Selectmen also took a moment before closing the meeting to thank town employees for a “busy and productive” year. Serpa singled out town administrator James Hagerty, who was hired for the position last May.