The West Tisbury select board this week took steps to reorganize the town affordable housing committee after a period of disarray, appointing two new members and asking the committee to reconsider its leadership.

“This board’s been concerned about [the affordable housing committee’s] dysfunction,” select board chair Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter said at the Jan. 17 meeting.

Mr. Manter pointed to the committee’s failure to gain support for a program to fund affordable accessory dwelling units at a special town meeting as indicative of the committee’s issues. 

“There wasn’t a lot of organization, presenting the [accessory dwelling unit] bylaw,” he said. “It really seemed that the group wasn’t prepared for the questions that were coming from the floor.”

The housing committee has faced significant turnover since September of 2022, when the construction and architecture firm South Mountain Company unexpectedly pulled out the 401 State Road affordable housing project, citing the committee’s failure “to engage with [South Mountain] in a civil and collaborative process.”

That letter prompted a shakeup in committee membership, with the committee chair Michael Colaneri stepping back from leadership, and two longtime members resigning from the committee. 

James Klingensmith took up the chair position after Mr. Colaneri, but later stepped down due to health issues. Jefrey DuBard then took over as interim chair, a position he said was never intended to be permanent.

“Being diplomatic and maintaining order is just not…the space where I am best in,” he said, at the meeting this week.

At that meeting, the board voted to appoint Kim Angell and select board member Jessica Miller as associate members to the housing committee, recommending that the committee appoint Ms. Miller as the new chair. 

Select board member Cynthia Mitchell also highlighted ongoing administrative and organizational issues on the committee after longtime administrator Rhonda Conley retired last year. Ms. Miller and Mr. DuBard said the committee would work to provide support to the new committee administrator, in order to ease the transition.

“We know what a priority affordable housing is to the Island as a whole,” Ms. Miller said. “The goal is to put into place some things that can help this committee restructure.”