Oak Bluffs zips through town meeting

The Martha's Vineyard Performing Arts Center. —MV Times

Oak Bluffs residents filed into the high school performing arts center for a special town meeting Tuesday night. 

In 26 minutes, all 12 scheduled articles were widely approved by voters, including for affordable housing and solar energy projects.

The meeting’s first article authorized the Select Board to take steps to lease roughly 18 acres for solar photovoltaic and battery energy storage systems, for an initial term of up to 30 years. The project would be located at 16, 48 and 61 Vespar Avenue, 347 County Road, and 0 Byron Avenue. The article was approved unanimously.

There were questions about savings and electricity costs that might be associated with the project. Town officials replied that Oak Bluffs is in the process of a solar survey with a solar consultant, in order to determine best available terms and conditions associated with the project. Possible outcomes include some energy being returned to the town, all energy produced being sold, and the town securing a lease payment in order to generate regular revenue. The town will determine its best course of action when a new request for proposals is issued for the project.

Two articles also passed which authorized the Select Board to declare parcels of land at 9 Panola Avenue and 44 Oak Avenue as surplus property, to be available for developing affordable housing.

Other articles passed included a personnel by-law amendment updating Schedule B, a compensation schedule for non-union employees that sets minimum and maximum pay for eight grades of employment.

Voters also approved the transfer of $30,000 from the Sale of Cemetery Lots to Cemetery Perpetual Care for maintenance of Oak Grove Cemetery, and the transfer of $35,000 from the Waterways Account for harbor maintenance, replacement of pilings, floats and moorings, and for private aids to navigation maintenance and upgrades.

Also approved was an article to transfer $57,300 from the Harbor Fuel Account for a department truck, which would address fuel dock emergencies, mobile fuel fill-ups, buoy-mooring hauling and transport, and more.

Voters also approved altering the General Bylaws to change the terms “Selectmen” and “Board of Selectmen” to “Select Board,” and to change “Chairman” to “Chair.” This had been supported at a prior town meeting.