Aquinnah appoints new zoning board members

(L to R) Aquinnah town administrator Jeffrey Madison and select board members Juli Vanderhoop, Gary Haley, and Tom Murphy going through the meeting's agenda. — Eunki Seonwoo

Two new members were appointed to the Aquinnah zoning board of appeals during Tuesday evening’s select board meeting. Select board member Tom Murphy recommended attorneys Mike Didiuk and Tim Collins join the zoning board of appeals. “I recommend we appoint them tonight,” Murphy said. 

Aquinnah town administrator Jeffrey Madison emphasized that the zoning board of appeals will have a project to review in the near future, which will be the first time in roughly four years it is meeting. When board of health member Kathy Newman asked whether zoning board of appeals chair James Vercruysse was notified, Madison said he “has gone back and forth” with Vercruysse, who has had “a lot of opportunity to chime in on this, and hasn’t contributed much.” 

Murphy and select board chair Juli Vanderhoop agreed it would have been beneficial to have Vercruysse’s input about the appointments, but said they wanted full membership in the zoning board of appeals. “I’ll make a point to talk to Jim [Vercruysse]. I cannot imagine anyone not being supportive of these two particular individuals,” Murphy said. 

“It’s not about not supporting them,” Newman said, saying appointing new people to a committee without notifying the members can be “not so comfortable.” 

After more discussion, the select board unanimously approved Murphy’s motion to appoint Didiuk and Collins to the zoning board of appeals. 

Meanwhile, the select board considered other appointments. The select board unanimously approved James Benoit to the board of health. The select board unanimously voted to refer the three applications from James Palmer, Eileen Sullivan, and Adrian Higgins to the projects committee for review. After reviewing the applicants, the projects committee will come back to the select board with their recommendations. 

In other business, Aquinnah signed a contract with Eric Kinsherf, a certified public accountant who has worked with the town before, to lend a hand to treasurer Jamie Vanderhoop.

Aquinnah and Chilmark both received a technical assistance award from the U.S. Department of Energy called the energy transition initiative partnership project (ETIPP). According to Emily Roscoe, community development officer at the Maine-based nonprofit Island Institute, the department will work with 14 communities through this project with a focus on municipal “energy transition planning and modeling for island, islanded, and remote communities.” Roscoe will be in touch with Aquinnah energy and climate committee chair Bill Lake and Chilmark finance advisory committee member Robert Hannemann for the process, since Island Institute is the department’s regional partner for this project. 


  1. The Times reported last week that a new potential firefighter was turned away due to the selectboard ‘s vax mandate. It wasn’t mentioned in this article if the new appointments are required to submit vax cards. How many boosters does the selectboard require? And has it even been confirmed that the selectboard submitted their own vax cards? Does the Times dare ask? What about West Tisbury’s vax mandate? Funny how the traditionally vax-hesitant towns flipped over covid and became the pro-vax towns.

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