Horrific. Awful. Brutal. Relentless. Residents of Edgartown’s historic district described a construction-heavy summer that amplified South Water and South Summer streets with constant noise, dust, and dirt.
Ivan Bradbury addressed the Edgartown planning board Tuesday evening. He was accompanied by about 10 other downtown Edgartown residents — mostly seasonal.
“I’ve been living on South Water Street for 22 years, and I’ve never seen construction like this,” Bradbury said. “From 7 am to late at night, six days a week. It’s horrific. It has to stop. It can’t continue like this.”
Harry Taylor, a South Summer Street resident of five years, agreed. “It’s horrendous,” Taylor said. “We haven’t been able to do anything about it.”
One resident said she lost a group of annual summer renters. Another said the construction was so bad, his children left. “I’m not a complainer, and I understand the importance of completing projects on time and on budget,” he said. “But there is zero courtesy. My adult children had to leave. It was not pleasant to be here. I ask for some limitation, because it is relentless.”
Edgartown’s historic district is a notably tight-knit zone with narrow plots with setbacks as close as five feet. Right-to-build bylaws allow construction in Edgartown from 7 am to 8 pm, Monday through Saturday, according to planning board clerk Doug Finn.
“I agree with putting some tweaks on this,” said planning board member Scott Morgan. “I’d like to see a limit on the amount of workers on a job site. Or not allowing them to start so early.”
Changes to this bylaw have to go through a painstaking process of strict, bureaucratic amendments, often through the selectmen, and are left in the hands of voters at annual town meeting. Planning board member Fred Mascolo and Morgan agreed the deck would be stacked against the group’s cause.
“It sounds good on paper, but when it goes to a vote, I think it will be hard to get the majority from the 4,000 people who live here year-round,” Mascolo said. Mascolo touched on the Island’s trade workforce, and how more than half of Edgartown residents work in construction.
“[Construction workers] need to work, and need their jobs,” Morgan said. “It’s expensive to live here year-round.”
Only three out of the 10 or so speaking out at Tuesday’s meeting were year-round residents registered to vote in Edgartown. But it was noted that seasonal Edgartown residents pay much higher taxes than local residents do. “Taxation without representation,” Bradbury said. “Like the Boston Tea Party.”
The planning board and historic district residents agreed that middle ground must be found.
“You have a right to your peace, and at the same time, they have a right to make a living,” Morgan said. “There has to be a middle.”
Bradbury suggested a midsummer special town meeting.
“We’ve tried that before, and you know what happens? We never make quorum,” Mascolo said. ”Everyone’s working.”
Mascolo suggested the residents form a group and speak as one voice to Edgartown selectmen. “There’s strength in numbers,” Mascolo said. “Hang on to that.”
In other news, the planning board approved the re-endorsement of an ANR plan on 79 Turkeyland Cove Rd. in Edgartown — Wyc and Corinne Grousbeck’s $14 million estate — the property Barack and Michelle Obama are unofficially eyeing. Agent Doug Hoehn of Schofield Barbini & Hoehn (SBH) Inc. brought in copies of the ANR plan endorsed by the planning board in 1998. ANR stands for “approval not required,” and outlines a division of land into lots.
“At the time, the property owners decided to hold off and not record [the plan] in case they wanted to tweak,” Hoehn said. These types of plans don’t have to be recorded, according to Hoehn: “It’s been sitting in my drawer ever since.”
When the property went on the market in 2015, the homeowners asked SBH to work on getting the ANR re-endorsed by the planning board.
“They asked us to start working on this two years ago, held off, and recently asked us to finish,” Hoehn told The Times.
Perhaps paving the way for a big sale?
“I don’t know,” Hoehn said. “Who cares?”