To the Editor:
We are a group of Oak Bluffs voters, property owners, and neighbors who are extremely concerned about proposed zoning reform changes. These proposed changes are moving through town channels now. There will be an important public hearing about this in the next few weeks, and then it will progress to the Tuesday, April 9, town meeting.
The planning board approved three different districts for light industrial use. One is along the Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road, which is currently zoned for residential use only. These changes allow for uses such as mining, commercial landscaping operations, earthmoving and excavation companies, etc. That’s exactly the problem! It’s opening the floodgates to allow some of the most disruptive and volatile land uses into well-established residential and conservation/agricultural areas.
Our town is in a water crisis. Due to the significant water usage issues facing Oak Bluffs, we must acknowledge the hypocrisy of these zoning changes. It would, in effect, make it possible for mining to expand, and lawn and garden maintenance businesses to set roots, expand, and disrupt the R3 district. This will promote water-related issues, including the Lagoon and our aquifer, to drastically worsen. In addition, these zoning changes would further increase noise levels and reduce air quality.
Opening the door to these types of uses would have catastrophic and perhaps irreversible impacts on our residential-, conservation-, and agricultural-zoned neighborhoods. If these warrant articles progress to town meeting, then it appears that some Oak Bluffs elected officials are willing to bring forth changes that would certainly have immediate and long-lasting negative impacts to our health, property, and well-being. These changes would benefit very specific members of our community who stand to profit from them, while simultaneously devastating hundreds more. What was previously illegal and enforceable would now become something that allows a handful of businesses to profit at the expense of the residents of this town and Island.
Oak Bluffs has long been a heavily settled and densely populated, residential town. Creation of these new laws would allow strip mall–like areas to set up, changing the character of the entire Island. Over the course of the past few months, numerous Oak Bluffs residents and neighbors have attended planning board meetings and hearings. Concerns and opposition to these zoning changes have repeatedly been voiced. Industrialization is not something most Island residents support, nor believe should happen to this community. Doing so blindly ignores the town’s master plan and vision the majority of us support going forward. Yet the planning board voted to approve the warrant articles.
We urge everyone to register to vote and go to the town’s website. You can view the overlay districts, as well as find meeting minutes, agendas. and pertinent information. You can also sign up for notifications of upcoming meetings. Please be sure to attend town meeting on Tuesday, April 9.
Paige Guizzardi, Roberto Guizzardi, Elizabeth Wilson, Barbara Ronchetti, Bruce Merrill, Gino Mazzaferro, Mary Ellen McElroy, Hannah Beford, Ben Scott, Brian Kennedy, Andrew Kennedy, Susan Desmarais, Bruce Desmarais, Elizabeth Reid, Charles Stutler, Karen Mulcachy, Joseph Mulcahy, Vickie McNamara, Tim McNamara, Tim McNamara Jr., Nona Alves, Ernesto Galvez, Marianne Galvez, Patricia Ingalls, Annemarie Reid, Rori Peters, Carol Koury, Marsha Eldridge, Hansel Tookes, Elizabeth Hynes, Thomas Juster, Ashely Cimeno, and Dan Williams