Island residents have submitted 26 citizen petitions that will be considered at the 2023 Annual Town Meeting, including two separate proposals that would make sweeping changes to the form of town government, a new bid to restrict short-term rentals, as well as a ban on e-bikes, mopeds, and other motorized devices on public ways, sidewalks and bike paths.
The slate of citizen petitions was certified by Nantucket Town Clerk Nancy Holmes on Tuesday, and released by the town administration. To be included on the Town Meeting warrant, citizen petitions require the signatures of at least 10 registered voters.
Other citizen petitions include a proposal to reinstate the Historic District Commission administrator position, another attempt to revamp the Nantucket Planning & Economic Development Commission, as well as numerous proposed zoning bylaw and map changes.
Below are brief summaries highlighting some of the proposals submitted as citizen petitions this week:
Short-term rental restriction: former Planning Board candidate Emmy Kilvert has sponsored the latest bid to regulate short-term rentals on the island. Her citizen petition seeks to implement limitations on who can short-term rent their property in residential zoning districts. In those areas, only properties that are owner-occupied for at least six months of the year would be permitted to operate short-term rentals. For non-owner-occupied properties, short-term rentals could be permitted as an accessory use, but only if the property’s primary and secondary dwellings “are each used for long-term residential use more than short-term rental use.” The petition’s signed supporters include several people who sit on the board of ACK Now, the political action group that has been pushing short-term rental regulations and restrictions in recent years. The ACK Now representatives who signed the petition include executive chair Carl Jelleme, Scott O’Connor, and John Sylvia.
Town Council Form of Government: Island resident Curtis Barnes has submitted a petition to replace Town Meeting as the island’s legislative body with an elected, nine-member Town Council. A competing and similar citizen petition was filed by a group of town employees that would install an eight-member Town Council as the legislative body of the town, replacing Town Meeting voters. The members would be elected by districts established for areas of the island, with one at-large seat.
E-bike & moped ban: Bruce Mandel’s citizen petition would prohibit the use of “motorized passenger devices” - including e-bikes, mopeds, scooters, skateboards and Segways - on any town-owned public way, sidewalk, bike path, park or playground. Only those with “express written permission to do so from the Town official(s) or officer having jurisdiction over the use of said town property” could legally use a motorized passenger device. Exemptions would include state-licensed vehicles or motorized devices, those used by handicapped persons, and those utilized by public safety personnel.
Affordable & Year-Round Housing Stabilization Fund: Island attorney Arthur Reade has sponsored this citizen petition that would dedicate two-thirds of Nantucket’s local option rooms excise tax for “the purpose of meeting affordable and year-round housing needs.” The rooms tax includes all lodging establishments such as hotels, inns, and short-term rentals. In the most recent fiscal year, Nantucket took in just over $8 million in local options rooms excise tax, meaning Reade’s proposal would have generated approximately $5.3 million for affordable housing. This proposed reallocation of the rooms excise tax would begin in the 2025 fiscal year, according to Reade’s proposal.
HDC Administrator: Diane Coombs, an elected member of the Nantucket Historic District Commission, has sponsored a petition to reinstate the HDC administrator position. That role was eliminated in 2016 - when the former administrator, the late Mark Voigt, was reassigned to the DPW - as the HDC staff was reorganized by the town administration and the Planning & Land Use Services department.