Housing bank scores an Aquinnah victory

Green wins board of health race; Taylor and Vanderhoop elected to planning board.

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After sweeping up all six Martha’s Vineyard towns during the annual town meetings, the housing bank was approved at Aquinnah’s Thursday election by a vote of 138-24.

The housing bank already has all the support it needs to be sent to the legislature, but voters continue to demonstrate just how much the Island supports the need for affordable housing. The legislation would allow the housing bank to receive a 2 percent transfer fee on the purchase of properties on the Island. The first $1 million would be exempt from the fee. So the buyer of a home for $1.2 million would pay a 2 percent fee on $200,000.

This is the third attempt at a housing bank on Martha’s Vineyard. The first in 2005 had agreement from all six Island towns and Island realtors, but was shot down by the state legislature when the Massachusetts Association of Realtors lobbied against it. A second attempt in 2019 to use 50 percent of the funds collected from the expanded rooms excise tax on rentals such as Airbnb and VRBO was shot down by town meetings, and got little to no buy-in from Island leaders.

A total of 169 voters cast ballots in the annual election.

There was no contested race for select board. Aquinnah voters also had other ballot questions to address at the polls.

A question seeking $200,000 for engineering and schematic phase planning for the town hall and its offices alongside the comfort station at Aquinnah Circle was approved by a vote of 108-53.

David Golden, an associate regional assessor from Regional Resource Group, previously told the Times this debt exclusion “would translate to 23 cents per $1,000 valuation.” According to Golden, Aquinnah’s average residential property value is $1.6 million, which would result in an average tax increase of $366 per property owner. 

Another question, which also sought to override the Proposition 2½ capital exclusion to purchase two parking voucher dispensers, was moot since voters shot it down during the annual town meeting. It failed at the polls as well, with 89 voters in opposition to 66 in favor.

The third nonbinding question asking Holtec, the owner of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, not to dump radioactive water into Cape Cod Bay was approved overwhelmingly, with a vote of 159-1.

In the board of health race, Gerald Green defeated James Glavin, 91-44. “I’m thrilled I was able to win,” Green said. “I’m looking forward to continuing the good work of the Aquinnah board of health.”

In the planning board race, Isaac Taylor (116) and Heidi Vanderhoop (101) were victorious over Jim Mahoney (75).

 

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