West Tisbury planning board requests more details

West Tisbury energy committee chair Kate Warner explaining the proposed bylaws to the planning board.

The West Tisbury planning board asked the town’s energy committee and zoning board of appeals to come back with more thoroughly researched bylaw proposals. Additionally, the planning board wants more input from the public about these proposed changes from public hearings. 

The energy committee presented two sets of proposals, all of which aim to help West Tisbury reach its goal of being powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2040. One batch was for all new construction and major renovations to be 100 percent electric, and be ready for electric vehicle charging stations. 

West Tisbury energy committee chair Kate Warner said this was modeled after Aquinnah’s bylaw proposal. Warner said these bylaws were reviewed by town counsel Ron Rappaport, although there is uncertainty regarding the charging stations, and will also be presented to the West Tisbury select board on Wednesday. Warner said this bylaw proposal, similar to Aquinnah’s, will most likely need a home rule petition. The other was a bylaw to require all swimming pools to be heated with solar power or another renewable energy source. Warner said the energy committee hopes these changes will be on the annual town meeting warrant, coming up in April. 

Planning board member Leah Smith told Warner they did not have a lot of time to look over the proposals. 

“Usually, we would like to have — [with] proposed bylaws and changes as substantial as this — time to have some discussion with members of the public as well as discussions among ourselves on how this fits into the bylaws,” Smith said. “We’re a little bit back on our heels.”

Other planning board members also made comments and asked questions about the bylaw proposal, such as the vulnerability of the electrical grid, and mining lithium, a key ingredient in electric cars.

“I think adding a not fully formed pool bylaw to the agenda this year is a mistake, and it should be worked on a little more and refined a little more and give it a breather,” West TIsbury planning board member Beatrice Phear said. “That’s not anything to do with the policy. That has just to do with my political sense of what’s going to be happening at town meeting.” 

Meanwhile, the West Tisbury zoning board of appeals came before the planning board with a bylaw change proposal to increase the allowable weight of vehicles in the rural and village residential districts from 10,000 pounds to 14,000 pounds. Zoning board member John Rau said this allows more pickup trucks on someone’s property. Rau voted against it because of how neighbors will be affected by the noise and the sight of the trucks, altering the town’s aesthetic. Zoning board of appeals member Deborah Wells pitched in that currently electric pickup trucks are heavier than combustion-engine pickup trucks. 

The planning board said they needed more information, such as specific weights of different types of trucks, before they could recommend the proposal to town voters.