The West Tisbury select board voted 2-1 in favor of allowing a onetime permit for food trucks to be present during Climate Action Week’s community celebration at Grange Hall on Saturday, May 14. Select board member Skipper Manter was the sole dissenting vote, citing retail operations not being allowed in village residential districts per the town’s zoning bylaws.
The request to have the food truck Goldie’s Rotisserie at the Climate Action Week event, made by Dolce Vita Events representative and the event coordinator for Climate Action Week Giulia Casalino, was initially denied by West Tisbury building inspector Joseph Tierney. In the denial letter, Tierney wrote that food trucks were considered fast food restaurants, which are prohibited in West Tisbury under its zoning bylaws. This decision was overturned by the West Tisbury zoning board of appeals in late April.
Manter said while he had nothing against the event itself, the food truck was of concern to him.
“We weren’t notified that they were planning to have a food truck. They specifically said the food was coming from the kitchen. I don’t think they were completely forthcoming with that,” Manter said. “The zoning board of appeals, all they did was say a food truck wasn’t fast food. That did not give it the authority or permission to operate retail anywhere in town, the residential areas, or in the historic district.”
The fact food trucks were considered to not be fast food would make them welcome to do retail operations in the business or commercial districts, according to Manter.
West Tisbury town administrator Jennifer Rand said the Grange Hall is located in what counts as a village residential district. This district enables “the historic village center of West Tisbury and surrounding residential neighborhoods to maintain their existing character and settlement pattern,” according to the town’s zoning bylaws.
Select board member Jessica Miller pointed out there have been food trucks at Grange Hall in the past for events, and was unsure why it would be different this time around.
Rand clarified that last year there was miscommunication between Tierney and West Tisbury health agent Omar Johnson, who handled the food permits. This led to trucks being allowed at some events and fairs, because it was late into the season when Tierney noticed it. Rand said this is also why some rulings were different this year than last.
Casalino said she had originally applied for the general permit at first because of “limited time.” She said the decision by the zoning board of appeals “was very specific to our event.”
“So if other people apply, it doesn’t mean that it’s definitely going to happen,” Casalino told the select board. “Which is why the town [residents] with all of the outpouring of support is going to follow through with the democratic process and down the line, you know, possibly with the support of the town or not, maybe change the law so this isn’t an issue, because this has been a gray area, as we are all coming to understand.”
Before going through the meeting’s agenda items, a moment of silence was held for West Tisbury animal control officer Anthony (“Tony”) Cordray, who passed away on May 7.
“Tony served our town very well. Our hearts go out to the family,” select board chair Cynthia Mitchell said.
“He always pitched in to help out, whatever you were doing. Problem at home, problem at the station, or animal control and otherwise. He was a caring and a giving person,” said Manter, who often worked with Cordray in a law enforcement capacity. “He’ll be greatly missed, and it’ll be very difficult to fill his shoes. It just feels terrible. We’ve been having a lot of these lately, and it’s very sad.”
In other business, the select board unanimously approved a request from the NAACP of Martha’s Vineyard to fly the Progress Pride flag at the town hall. This was allowed last year as well, according to Mitchell.
The town’s smooth approval of allowing the Progress Pride flag to fly is in stark contrast to the controversial process Oak Bluffs went through in allowing the same flag to fly in Ocean Park.
West Tisbury Sgt. Matt Gebo’s promotion to the lieutenant position in the police department was approved 2-0 by the board. Manter, who is the current lieutenant and will retire by July 31, abstained from voting.
The board unanimously authorized Rand to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank for a well prebuilt at Lambert’s Cove. This allows the town to use the well instead of constructing a new one.
Meanwhile, West Tisbury received a Winter Recovery Assistance Program award of $46,450.92 from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.