Updated 9:15 pm
The Chilmark select board unanimously approved an amended plan for Peaked Hill Pastures during a special select board meeting Tuesday. The board will send its suggestions to the planning board.
Instead of making plans to develop on just six acres of land, as mentioned in a previous meeting, the select board’s approved motion suggests the development of 10 rental units on six acres of land, and four or more units for homeownership on 4 acres of land. A developer will also be consulted in the development of these plans.
The Zoom meeting attracted nearly 40 people.
Chilmark select board chair James Malkin said the housing development issue brought forward strong opinions from various Chilmark residents about development, density, diversity, rentals, and home lots.
“As the select board, it’s our job to bring something to the town that … will best answer the interest of the town in providing housing for residents of Chilmark and residents of the Island,” Malkin said. “On a basis that it is within the character of the town of Chilmark, but also recognizes the issues that we have with housing for people in our community.”
Chilmark select board member Bill Rossi said he wants to see a “more broad approach” to the housing development proposals.
“They [planning board and Peaked Hill Pastures subcommittee] came up with a proposal after a few years that I think, on many levels, seems to be pretty reasonable. On some levels, I maybe don’t necessarily agree with some of the proposals that are being put forth,” Rossi said, based on conversations he had with Chilmark residents and interest groups.
Chilmark select board member Warren Doty said some affordable housing projects that should be considered as their Peaked Hill Pastures models are Scott’s Grove (prebuilt housing units) in West Tisbury and Nab’s Corner (“you build” homes) in Chilmark. Doty also said making the development on the property as dense as possible to support Islanders who need housing is important.
Chilmark planning board member Peter Cook, who liked the turnkey model brought forth in the previous meeting, suggested another affordable housing community that used a hybrid model: Meshaket Way in Edgartown. Peaked Hill Pastures subcommittee chair Janet Weidner was also in favor of the turnkey model, and feels strongly that rentals are important. Turnkey means a developer designs and builds the housing units, and then a lottery system is held to choose eligible buyers.
There was also time for a public comment session for those attending the meeting. Steven Flanders, an abutter to Peaked Hill Pastures, was displeased with the proposed housing project. He moved to Chilmark to get away from the suburbs, and density is a big concern for him. He “wants to see open land.” Flanders was not keen on living next to “a bunch of people” again, and feels he will “be living next to a housing project.”
“I’m certainly impacted more than anybody else in town by this,” Flanders said. “I learned to love the land and the town and respect it, and that’s why I kept the land I have the way I have … I feel like I’m being shafted by the town, really.”
Flanders said he understands “how hard it is to live here,” but believes “the town should not be in the real estate business,” and on a personal level does not believe in collectivism. “I’m not really happy about this, and that’s my piece for now,” Flanders said.
Colin Ruel responded to Flanders. “I love open spaces too. I love nature, I love how beautiful this Island is. But the Island really is the people that live in it, and we have to preserve the future of the Island, the young people here,” Reul said. “You’ve got land next to town land, and the town can kind of do whatever they want with it, you know? And the future of the town is in young people, and I think we should really be focusing on that.”
Fred Khedouri said he would like to see more specifics regarding the plans, such as the subdivision of land or the income qualifications, and funding, even if there is another round of discussions.
“What the town will do with Peaked Hill will also contribute to the Island’s needs for rental and ownership options,” Dukes County Regional Housing Authority executive director David Vigneault said. “Certainly start with the town needs.”
The prospects of new rental and ownership housing units were exciting for attendee Wendy Wolf.
“I feel positively inspired from what I heard tonight,” Chilmark housing committee chair Jim Feiner said. Feiner said he wants to envision Chilmark for the next 50 years, and he is aware many want to maintain the status quo: “It is an unavoidable reality that we have to have certain changes happen.”
Malkin said after a plan is made, it would need to be taken to the annual town meeting to be voted on.
Updated with the correct spelling of Colin Ruel’s last name.