Oak Bluffs residents will gather at the Performing Arts Center Tuesday at 7 p.m. to take up the annual and special town meeting warrants. Among the items voters will consider are paying for upgrades to the town’s wastewater and harbor infrastructure, and business-friendly zoning amendments.

The quorum is 50 people. 

Bolstering the wastewater treatment facility will require spending $1.6 million, an amount needed to account for inflation and to increase the useful life of an expensive component called a membrane, said Patrick Hickey, the town’s wastewater facilities manager. The membrane functions like a sink trap, allowing treated water to exit the plant. 

The money would go towards screening equipment to take more debris out of the water before it reaches the membrane.

“Ultimately the goal with getting the screening is to get a better return on your investments,” Mr. Hickey said.

The upgrade has already been approved by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection as a potential addition to the overall treatment facility project. That overall wastewater project was given the authority to borrow $26 million at the 2022 annual town meeting. Of that, the state will forgive $4.3 million.

Residents will also decide on $1.6 million in spending for a new elementary school boiler, $1 million for a new fire truck and $4.7 million to reconstruct the town’s aging and deteriorating harbor jetties.

If these three debt exclusions pass at town meeting and again at the April 11 election, the median taxpayer’s tax bill would increase by about $127. 

The recommended town budget comes in at $40 million — a 6.5 per cent increase from last year. Town administrator Deborah Potter said this was largely driven by town employee salary increases. 

“There are some increases in most of the department payroll accounts,” she said. “That’s due to a combination of shared bargaining increases, [cost of living adjustment] increases, and wage analysis that we performed.”

Potential regulations for short-term rentals, such as AirBNBs, are also on the table. West Tisbury and Edgartown are both considering regulations around the controversial uses, and Oak Bluffs voters will see an article that would put $50,000 towards the development of a rental database and inspection program.

The project would be done in tandem with Tisbury, and could lead to recommendations for future bylaws governing the properties.

In the lead up to town meeting, articles that have generated the most discussion are the proposed zoning amendments from the planning board. One would allow light industrial uses, such as warehouses, adult care facilities, construction and landscaping storage, and, in some cases, mining, in new parts of town with planning board approval.

The planning board hopes that these overlay districts would allow the board to address the changing needs of business owners in Oak Bluffs despite the lack of space in town. 

“From a zoning perspective, we’re saturated,” said Ewell Hopkins, the chair of the planning board, “It’s not practical to consider re-zoning. What we’re proposing is a planning tool.”

However, the proposal drew objections from residents in planning board public hearings, with voters saying they felt some of the uses weren’t right for the area. 

If the proposed light industrial and mixed-use overlay is added, applicants could apply to build commercial recreation areas or employee housing. There would be no guarantee that these would be allowed, but they could go forward if approved by the planning board.

“In the proposed light industrial area, you could conceivably have a passive staging area for your business, as a small business owner, and build housing for your workers which you otherwise could not do in town,” Mr. Hopkins said.

Another proposed overlay district is for professional services. These districts, planned for New York avenue and a portion of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, would allow for new home businesses, such as veterinarians and lawyers. 

“We wanted to provide a place outside of downtown to allow you to open up a practice and business,” said Mr. Hopkins.

The planning board also suggested amending language that would allow resident occupants, not just resident owners, to apply for home business licenses. The wording change would also open up who could have commercial vehicles parked at a residence.

The business changes come with other articles that would decrease the needed frontage for affordable housing and address oversight of timeshares.

“All of this reform is to give us more effective planning tools as a town so that we can address the massively growing community that we are in a responsible way.” Mr. Hopkins said. “We don’t have enough tools to consider all of the applications that are in front of us.”

Changes to zoning bylaws are also proposed in the petition articles. 

Geoff Rose, an Oak Bluffs resident and the owner of Island Time Dispensary in Vineyard Haven, put forward an article that would allow marijuana stores in downtown Oak Bluffs along Dukes County avenue, Circuit avenue and Kennebec avenue in the B-1 zoning district. But in an interview Wednesday, Mr. Rose said he planned to ask the moderator to remove the article because it was less comprehensive than the other petition article he brought to the warrant. 

A second article from Mr. Rose would do the same as the other article, with the additional proposal to amend the wording that does not allow marijuana shops in buildings with transient housing. Mr. Rose planned to submit amendments on town meeting floor that would exclude part of downtown from having marijuana shops in hopes that it would increase the likelihood that the article would pass. 

“I will be modifying the amendment to exclude over 70 parcels on Circuit avenue,” he said. “Basically, what I’m saying is, a dispensary doesn’t belong on Circuit avenue.”