West Tisbury boards won’t listen


To the Editor:

In Marc Rosenbaum`s recent appearance before the West Tisbury select board (WTSB), he is absolutely correct about the noise levels in West Tisbury. 

Where he makes a big error is in asking the WTSB, or for that matter, any W.T. board, to solve a problem. They are much better at creating problems, and excel at doing nothing. Steamship Authority vessels have a large poster stating “All towns have strictly enforced noise regulations. Please respect your neighbors.” It says nothing about the laissez faire W.T. town boards.

Furthermore, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has a set of regulations which I have submitted a number of times to the W.T. select board, dating back 30 years. For the first 10 years they told me they were powerless to enforce particulate levels on a private dirt road. When I finally presented them with 310 CMR (sect 7.52, that covers enforcement), they told me they choose to do nothing. But none of these boards did nothing. Instead, the zoning board of appeals tripled the number of traffic-generating businesses in spite of overwhelming objections by residents. They apparently do not understand that basic constant addition adds up, nor do they have any idea of how many businesses they have previously allowed. Then for the price of one dollar, they tell the neighborhood that they have to foot the bill for the maintenance for now largely businesses on a residential so-called private road. The board of health has neglected to conduct a particle determination test for over 20 years. Copies of those requests sit in my attorney’s office. The planning board has potentially doubled the size of all these subdivisions; and has put the SSA on a mission impossible trying to keep up with this planning for profit. As for the WTSB plan that associations should enforce noise regulations, consider that an association, which I am not a member of, tried to get a district court judge fired when he ruled against them. The surveyor of the association at that time was also the W.T. building inspector, who is empowered by the DEP to enforce air-quality standards. He was given an assist by his wife, the town treasurer, and fellow association members who hold positions on the board of health (also empowered by the DEP), and one family member on the ZBA.

Mr. Rosenbaum is also correct about the owners of the noise-generating projects not being present. Leaf blowers operate at a decibel level much higher than anybody should have to listen to. Lawn mowers in the 1950s were 1.5 hp. They are now close to 30 hp, and they have to be able to vacuum up clippings because the suburbanites are told by their TVs that clippings on the lawn are not acceptable. Fertilizer and sprinkler systems are also needed. None of this is good environmentally. W.T. town residents were bamboozled during discussions of this so-called home occupation bylaw many years ago. The language was vague and loosely written. I believe this had to be intentional.

I think back to Rachel Carson not being able to hear any birds because they didn’t exist. Now they are not heard because of mostly lawn-related and home business noise. Meanwhile the town picks and chooses which laws they want to obey. Ordinary citizens do not have that option.


James Sepanara

West Tisbury