Town Meeting Day One Wrap-Up

Jason Graziadei •

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The first day of Nantucket's 2023 Nantucket Annual Meeting is in the books. Here's our reporters' notebook on the votes taken and other observations from day one. 

Article 62: A citizen petition submitted by Nantucket Land Council executive director Emily Molden sought to close what she referred to as a "loophole" in Nantucket's zoning bylaw that allows subdivision of preexisting, non-conforming lots, as long as structures were present prior to the enactment of the town's zoning bylaw. Molden's petition earned a majority of the vote - 268 to 142 - but failed to secure the necessary two-thirds vote for passage. The Land Council had stated the existing bylaw gets "exploited to inappropriately develop nonconforming lots which our zoning bylaw says should not be possible." The Planning Board had moved not to adopt the article, saying it required further study.

Article 61: a citizen petition sponsored by island resident Linda Williams that sought to define home rentals in Nantucket's zoning code to ensure they are allowed in residential zoning districts was defeated. The vote: Yes: 185, No: 495. 

Article 60: After a lengthy debate on what was the most anticipated proposal at Town Meeting - Article 60 - voters defeated the proposed regulations on short-term rentals. The vote was: Yes: 378, No: 558. Read our full story on the debate here. 

Article 59, another citizen petition from Linda Williams to clarify the zoning code by removing the word "expressly" with respect to allowed uses in zoning districts, was defeated. Williams effort was meant to codify short-term and long-term rentals as allowed uses. The vote was: Yes: 476, No: 293, but it required a two-thirds vote. 

Article 40, a zoning bylaw amendment, had been proposed to close a potential loophole in the zoning code that allows so-called "fractional ownership" of island homes, such as what the corporation Pacaso is pursuing on Meadow Lane. But both the Planning Board and Finance Committee moved not to adopt the article, stating: "Due to the on-going short-term rental discussion and the scheduled 2023 Special Town Meeting scheduled on November 7th, the Planning Board determined that this matter should be deferred until it can be discussed with other related articles." Island resident Anne Dewez's offered a motion to approve the zoning bylaw amendment, stating it was an opportunity to address the "multi-headed hydra that is the corporate takeover of Nantucket real estate." A majority of voters - 415 to 313 - approved her motion, but it did not earn the required two-thirds threshold and was defeated.

Article 36: Diane Coomb's citizen petition to create a new independent HDC administrator position was defeated. The vote was: Yes: 244, No: 457.

Article 35: In light of the passage of Article 18, Arthur Reade moved to withdraw his call of his citizen petition - Article 35 -  that sought to allocate two-thirds of Nantucket's room occupancy tax for affordable housing initiatives. The Finance Committee's motion not to adopt the article was then approved: Yes: 381, No. 87.

Article 18, a $6.5 million tax override for affordable housing initiatives, was approved by a wide margin. The vote was: Yes: 607. No: 226. The debate was the most extensive of the morning, with nearly a dozen residents taking the microphone to argue in favor or against the proposal. It will add $211 annually to the average year-round homeowner's property tax bill. The meeting is now breaking for lunch.

Article 15, a proposed $3.8 million tax override for improvements to the Nobadeer Farm Road playing fields (including the addition of one natural grass field and the renovation of the two existing grass fields, parking and site enhancements) was defeated. The vote was: Yes: 265, No: 570. Island resident Maria Zodda called the article and expressed concerns about adding a new field before addressing maintenance for the existing facilities. Island resident Meri Lepore said that the town should focus on removing the existing turf field in the area before investing in the development of a new field due to PFAS concerns. Parks & Recreation Director Charlie Polachi Jr. responded by saying there are no plans at this time to remove the turf field.

Article 14: Article 14, a $4.6 million tax override to provide funding for the proposed Wauwinet bicycle path, was approved. The vote was Yes: 757, No: 90. There was some opposition from Wauwinet residents and others, but the spending was overwhelmingly approved. 

Article 8: Article 8, the town's $116 million general fund operating budget, was approved. The vote was as follow: Yes: 661. No: 110.

Article 8: A motion by island resident Meghan Perry on Article 8, the general fund budget, to reserve $60,000 of the $401,000 legal budget for a special counsel for the Zoning Board of Appeals was approved on the following vote: Yes: 531, No: 301.

Article 10: The final vote on Article 10, general fund capital expenditures, was 666 votes in favor and 103 opposed. The vote approves more than $17 million in capital spending.

Article. 10: Another motion by island resident Toby Brown to strike more than $5 million from Article 10 for affordable housing initiatives was defeated. Yes votes: 269. No votes: 626

Article 10: A motion by island resident Toby Brown to strike $100,000 contained within Article 10 for EV charging stations for town vehicles was defeated. Yes votes: 249. No votes: 492

9:25 a.m. Here are the 30 articles that have been called by voters for debate: 8, 10, 14, 15, 17, 18, 35, 36, 39, 40, 44, 51, 52, 55, 59, 60, 61, 62, 66, 67, 68, 69, 72, 73, 76, 81, 83, 92, 101, 102. All other articles will be approved or rejected based on their Finance Committee recommendations at the end of the meeting.

8:45 a.m. Sarah Alger announced the first Dr. Howard Dickler Housing Advocate Award will be presented to island builder Billy Cassidy. 

8:30 a.m. Town Meeting moderator Sarah Alger gaveled the meeting to order, and began with the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of the National Anthem.

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