Town Meeting: Edgartown

By KATHERINE WILEY

At this year's annual town meeting, Edgartown voters will decide issues that range from allowing affordable housing on substandard lots to accepting $300,000 from the Sheriff's Meadow Foundation.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 10 in the Old Whaling Church at 7:30 p.m. This year's warrant contains 53 articles and is not viewed by town leaders as particularly controversial.

At the meeting, voters will also review the town's budget for the coming fiscal year. This year's requests total $16,183,920.58.

The only budget items not recommended by the finance advisory committee deal with salaries and expenses at the Edgartown School. In the town meeting booklet, the committee stated that they feel "that the budget request is not fiscally responsible and would appreciate the Edgartown School making a significant reduction."

Three of the warrant articles deal with affordable housing, with two of them representing changes in the zoning bylaws.

The first would allow substandard lots to be developed as affordable homesites, including pieces of property that are smaller than the minimum size allowed in zoning districts.

Under the change, lots would still have to fit certain standards. They would have to be at least 10,000 square feet in size and meet the board of health's requirements for siting of wells and septic systems.

To qualify for these properties, people would have to meet the residency and income requirements of the resident homesite committee. They would have had to have lived in Edgartown for a substantial period of time and be planning to stay year-round.

Like all zoning bylaw amendments, this will require a two-thirds vote for approval.

Along with making room for affordable year-round housing, the warrant also contains an article that would provide housing for seasonal workers.

The change would come from an amendment to the zoning bylaws that would permit dormitory style housing in the town's trades district, near the airport.

This proposed change also comes with a number of restrictions. The dormitory units could contain no more than 100 beds per building and would have to be maintained by a private or public organization. People could stay for no more than eight months at a time and would have to prove that they are employed on the Island.

But the affordable housing articles don't end there. Another asks voters to set aside 12 acres of town-owned land for affordable housing. The land is part of a 29-acre plot off Pennywise Path that Edgartown acquired it 1997.

This year's warrant asks the voters whether they want to exclude four specific capital projects from the strictures of Proposition 2 1/2. Three of the projects involve a total of $100,000 for street and sidewalk repairs, while the other asks for $41,528 for the final payment on the town dredge.

These exclusions would increase the annual tax by $5.45 per $100,000 of assessed value. To go into effect, these articles need to be passed by a two-thirds vote. They will also have to receive majority approval when they appear on the town ballot at the annual election on Thursday, April 12.

Voters will also decide whether to accept $300,000 from the Sheriff's Meadow Foundation. If accepted, the money would be used to acquire land.

They will also see an article asking them to join in an intermunicipal agreement with the county and four of the other Island towns regarding the costs and construction of a skateboard park near the Martha's Vineyard Arena.

They will also be asked to give the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School permission to spend $750,000 in state Chapter 70 education funds, part of the $1.3 million which was received after the school budget had been approved by the towns.

Citizens will also be asked if they wish to appropriate the following funds:

* $27,948 to implement a graphic information system (GIS).

* $32,000 to purchase a new four-wheel-drive truck for the harbor master's department.

* $184,200 for the town's dredge management program.

* $28,000 to purchase a new pickup truck and snow plow for the highway department.

* $118,142.78 for resurfacing of streets in town.