Chilmark candidates make their pitch


Chilmark voters go to the polls on Wednesday, April 24, to choose a new select board member. Two candidates, Jeffrey Maida and William Meegan, are vying for one seat on the town’s lead board.

The MV Times asked the candidates a number of questions, from maintaining the rural character of the up-Island town to how to regulate short term-rentals.


The questions we asked

  • Tell the voters of Chilmark about yourself, your age, and why you are running.
  • What do you see as the biggest obstacles to retaining the character of Chilmark, and what can be done about it?
  • West Tisbury recently passed a set of regulations to keep tabs on the short-term rental industry at town meeting. Do you see a need to regulate the short-term rental market in Chilmark, and what might be some rules to consider?
  • Do you see Chilmark’s zoning as a hurdle to developing housing, and what would you try to do to provide more opportunities to develop housing for year-round residents?
  • What aspect of the town’s government would you like to see improved?


Jeffrey Maida

  1. I was born and raised in Chilmark, the fifth and youngest child of a single working mother. I attended the two-room Chilmark School and graduated from MVRHS in 1983. I currently manage my own caretaking business, and also work with my nephew at Coutinho Lawn Care. I managed the Net Result for 30 years. I have been on the harbor advisory committee for 12 years, and currently serve as chairperson. I am a member of the Menemsha Commercial Dock repair or replace working group, as well as the West Dock security camera working group.
  2. Chilmark was incorporated in 1694, 330 years ago. Three-acre zoning, covering most of the town, was adopted in 1971, 53 years ago. One of the biggest obstacles to retaining Chilmark’s character is finding a way to balance between honoring this unique history while adapting to modern demands and pressures. I advocate for a steady-handed approach by upholding our existing town regulations and ordinances, supplemented very carefully, and only where essential to safeguard what makes Chilmark exceptional. It is important to resist the impulse for rapid, sweeping changes in town operations, and to respect our successful three-century history as a priority. 
  3. I recognize there is a long history of owners offering houses for rent in Chilmark. Recently, corporate and venture capital entry into the rental market has become a concern. I believe the best approach is to coordinate closely with other Island towns and adopt as uniform an approach as possible. Nantucket’s strategy on this topic should also be given careful study. Regulations may be necessary, but the corporate and venture capital sector is well-funded and sophisticated. Adopting effective regulations that will withstand legal challenges must be done carefully, drafted in close coordination with legal counsel, and not done in haste. 
  4. Chilmark’s zoning was challenged and upheld in the courts because of our complex geology and coastal resources. The importance of protecting the environment is much more scientifically documented now than when zoning was originally written. Using current best available septic technology, six bedrooms/acre is the maximum density allowed when drinking water supply is from an onsite well. Nab’s Corner, Middle Line, and a number of youth lots have been created under current zoning. I believe we can add to the year-round housing inventory within current zoning. Purchasing existing homes to supplement current housing may be part of the solution. 
  5. Something that I believe would be beneficial, and that I’ve heard from many voters, is the need to generate written information on a regular basis to keep the taxpayers up to date. A newsletter, or mailing, to voters informing them of current and upcoming town business would help address some of the complex issues that gain the attention of voters at what they perceive to be the “last minute.” Similarly, a mailing highlighting an important topic(s), potentially with a public information session scheduled for nonworking hours, should become a standard practice. Using the town website alone has proven insufficient.


William Meegan

  1. I am a retired contractor, age 73, and have had the privilege to build my own home in Chilmark with my wife, raise two children, and run a successful business. I served as planning board chair for five years of the decade that I served, and participated on other committees, as well as resurrecting the summer Sunday morning softball games at Peaked Hill in cooperation with the town and summer community. I am running in response to the many people who reached out encouraging me to return to my constructive service to the town.
  2. The big obstacles to retaining the character of Chilmark are that locals are being priced out of the real estate market, and we are losing our community. Corporations and individuals are looking at Chilmark and the rest of the Island as a profitable investment with greater returns than the stock market, and are predatory. A pondside property listed for a summer month’s rent of $1,000,000 is indicative of the greed that is destroying our Island. People with extraordinary means are arriving here and supplanting our modest aesthetics with their ostentatious display of their wealth, and little regard for their neighbors.We voted in a big-house bylaw a few years ago that needs to be revisited, upgraded with stricter reviews and conditions. Fractional ownership should be outlawed.
  3. Chilmark has a long history of the need for locals to rent out their properties seasonally to augment income and help pay off their mortgage. Unfortunately, the advent of short-term rentals has maximized their potential profit at the expense of affordability for the year-round population. An increase on the STR tax would be helpful to offset some of the problems created by STRs. Since the inception of the tax in 2018, through FY2023, the town has received $1,508,323.32, with at least another $300k projected for FY 2024. This revenue should be totally applied and designated to rental assistance, subsidized building projects such as the Peaked Hill Pasture development, garage apartments, and in-law accessory apartments, and not added to the general fund. The owners of short-term rental property should also be required to have an onsite presence.
  4. Chilmark needs to change its bylaw 6.10A2, which allows only two apartments per three acres on town-owned land. It should be in accord with the density allowed for homesite housing lots. This has been an obstacle to developing the town-owned land at Peaked Hill Pastures. We need to encourage private landowners to aid the housing problem by possibly offering garage apartments, in-law apartments, guesthouses and homesite housing lots to their chosen members of our community, and we need to consider two-family dwelling structures.
  5. I would love to see our town government improved by the presence and participation of our younger citizens. We are an aging, fast-disappearing community, and need fresh blood and insights to decide the direction of our future town by serving on the many boards and departments that need to be replenished.