New food truck regulations were approved Tuesday night by the Tisbury select board and, within the same meeting, the town approved a food truck for the Cove Golf and Grill at 386 State Road.
Brook Katzen, who took over the property July 1, planned to open El Gato Grande, a taco truck, Wednesday afternoon, he told the select board after his permit was approved. Katzen’s public hearing was delayed briefly while he dealt with some technical difficulties during the Zoom call.
The food truck regulations were the end result of a process that began seven months ago with two members of the board — Jim Rogers and Jeff Kristal — highly critical of them. At the time, Rogers said he worried about the town looking “honky-tonk,” and Kristal said he wanted to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants.
The regulations ban food trucks from Main, Union, and Water streets.
With a few tweaks from the previous iteration, the vote of the board to approve them was unanimous. Questions that were raised about giving a restaurant within 200 feet veto power were addressed by not including restaurants on the opposite side of the street, and the board also clarified that the new regulations don’t affect caterers doing private functions.
The regulations require the food trucks to operate on a property where there is already a food establishment with a common victualer’s license, which limits where they can be located. A food truck on the former Hinckley Hardware site run by Chef Amy doesn’t meet that requirement, but can stay in place because it predates the regulations.
Not everyone was happy with the board’s actions. Ben Hall Jr., who called into the meeting on his phone, said there was no way for him to be recognized during the public comment portion of the public hearing. By the time he got a message to the board through MacAleer Schilcher, the regulations had been approved to go into effect August 15.
Hall was critical of the board approving the regulations after making changes to them without the public having time to review them. “The public hearing was continued until today, and I thought the public record would be left open, but there was no information made readily available to indicate that there were going to be changes in the document that were going to be — again — reviewed anew today,” he said.
Kristal said the edits have been posted online for public review. He added that Hall hasn’t been shy about letting his feelings be known through text messages. Kristal called the regulations a “working document” that may be tweaked moving forward.
“I encourage you to submit written comments, and I’ll guarantee it will be looked at,” Rogers said.
Harbormaster in the hot seat
In what was one of the steamiest days of the summer Tuesday, harbormaster John Crocker was in the hot seat. Crocker was asked questions about the near sinking of a pumpout boat, dredging of the Tashmoo Channel, too many dinghies taking up beach space, abandoned boats, and how he handles moorings.
It was the first time Crocker had publicly commented on the pumpout boat, which nearly sank earlier this month.
Crocker told the board that the vessel is not yet back in the water. He said he is replacing the bilge pump, having a high-water alarm installed, and pondering what to do about the scuppers, which were partly responsible for the incident.
“The problem is that this boat was completely reconfigured, and that changes the way it sits in water,” he said. The deck is at the water line, and is therefore prone to flooding, Crocker said.
“Who did that?” Kristal said.
Crocker said the boat was reconfigured about eight years ago, prior to him running the department.
When pressed on why the problem arose now, Crocker said it was operator error. “It was left by the person who was running it with too much stuff in the tank,” Crocker said. The deck also had water on it when the person left, which the harbormaster referred to as “human error.”
Rogers pressed, asking if the person had been reprimanded. Crocker acknowledged he had, and that new protocols were in place. He also said he is looking at the possibility of using the state’s Clean Vessel Act to fund a new pumpout boat for Tashmoo, but has not heard back. “It would solve a bunch of our issues,” he said.
Crocker said there are plans to hire the Edgartown Dredge to remove silt and sand from the Tashmoo Channel. Under a memorandum on understanding approved two years ago, the town would pay a flat fee of $32,000, then $7,500 per day, not to exceed $135,000.
There was some criticism from Schilcher and mariner Lynne Fraker about the last time Edgartown dredged the channel. Both said it wasn’t well done.
Crocker pointed out that consultant Woods Hole Group would oversee the dredging and beach renourishment. “The last time we used the Edgartown Dredge, they did what we asked them to do, and it came in under budget,” he said.
Of criticism that the work is being done in October, instead of after spring nor’easters, Crocker said the state doesn’t allow dredging after January until July, which is at the height of the Vineyard’s boating season.
On another topic, Rogers was critical of Owen Park, where, he said, the beach is dominated by dinghies lying in the sand instead of people. “To the left side of the dock … is so full of dinghies no one can sit there, no one can use that area of beach. What do we do to solve that so that whole area isn’t taken up by upside-down dinghies?” Rogers said.
Crocker said there are more dinghies because it’s one of the only ways — besides the Vineyard Haven launch — for people to get to their moorings. He said dinghy docks could be added, but that would be expensive. “I don’t know of a simple solution,” he said.
Kristal described the look as a “blight” that needs to be corrected for future summers.
“I don’t want to procrastinate,” Rogers said. “I don’t want to be sitting here next July saying the same thing.”
With the support of the board, Rogers also asked Crocker to begin the process of alerting boat owners of two sunken vessels tied to moorings near Lake Street Landing that their boats will be removed.
And speaking of moorings, Rogers said the way the town handles them is untenable. He said there should be no favoritism. “We need to make sure our mooring process is in line with our own regulations,” he said. People who leave moorings vacant for extended periods of time should lose them, he said.
When Crocker said sometimes discretion is used to help people in special situations, Rogers said Crocker should use the select board to “take the heat off” him.
“If there is something you need to elevate, absolutely the board will back you up,” Kristal said to Crocker.
In other business, selectmen approved a laundry list of appointments, including Crocker’s, to start their meeting.
The board also agreed to allow AT&T to withdraw its proposal for a cell antenna on a utility pole on Church Street. At a meeting earlier this month, property owners on that street balked at the idea.
Asked by Church Street resident Robert Bennett if it was gone permanently, town officials and the town’s attorney acknowledged that they’re not sure what the company’s intent is.
The board also agreed to a licensing agreement, pending final approval by the town’s attorney, to authorize relocation of a wastewater pipe at Boch Park. Later board members also supported allowing a property owner with two separate properties to reallocate sewer flow under certain circumstances.