Annual Town Meeting Day Two
Jason Graziadei •
On the second day of the island's Annual Town Meeting, Nantucket voters on Monday evening rejected a proposed ban on electric bikes and scooters on bike paths, approved a new outdoor lighting bylaw, and endorsed the formation of a study committee to evaluate whether Town Meeting should be replaced with a Town Council form of government. There was also a wild sequence during the consideration of Article 83, a shakeup of the Nantucket Planning & Economic Development Commission, which was approved by a single vote.
Those were among the highlights of Monday evening at Nantucket High School, where voters completed voting on the Annual Town Meeting warrant. Read our initial wrap-up below, in descending order, with more comprehensive coverage coming in Wednesday's edition of Nantucket Current. Read our coverage of day one of Town Meeting by clicking here.
Article 102 | 9: 50 p.m. A real estate article authorizing the town to acquire 31 Easy Street by purchase, gift, or eminent domain was approved. The vote was: Yes: 157, No: 101. The town, Land Bank, and Steamship Authority are pursuing the acquisition of the property from Joseph Arno for long-range planning purposes including the revamping of the Steamboat Wharf terminal, roadway improvements, and coastal resiliency initiatives. Arno, through his attorney Ken Gullicksen, had vigorously opposed the potential for an eminent domain taking, and stated the town had not been actively negotiating a purchase. Town Meeting would still to vote at some point in the future to authorize spending the funds to acquire the property following negotiations or the eminent domain process.
Article 92 | 8:54 p.m. A motion to authorize the Select Board to enter into a long-term lease of up to 25 years with a new solid waste facility operator was approved on a voice vote.
Article 83 | 8:44 p.m. In the most dramatic vote of the evening, Hillary Hedges Rayport's citizen petition to reconfigure the structure of the Nantucket Planning & Economic Development Commission (NP&EDC) was approved by just a single vote. Following an extensive discussion, the final vote was: Yes: 183 No: 182. It immediately prompted drama, as some people in the auditorium called for a motion to reconsider the vote. Moderator Sarah Alger said such a motion could only be made by someone who voted in the prevailing side (someone who voted in favor of Article 83). Island resident and DPW operations manager Richard Moore raised his hand to do so. Article 83 supporter Charity Benz questioned whether there was proof Moore had voted in the affirmative, prompting Alger to interject: "Excuse me. We’re a community. If he says he voted for it, I’m taking his word for it and I'm not questioning him." But Moore's motion to reconsider required a two-thirds majority, and ultimately failed. Rayport's citizen petition is an attempt to shakeup the commission, increase public participation and make it more representative, among other changes, by making a portion of its membership elected rather than appointed. As a home rule petition, it must still be approved by the state legislature.
Article 81 | 7:23 p.m. After an extensive debate over the participation and inclusivity (or lack thereof) of Nantucket's Town Meeting form of government, Curtis Barnes' citizen petition to form a committee to study the establishment of a Town Council form of government, was approved on a voice vote. "Look around the room and reflect on the diversity of our community and look who’s here," Select Board member Brooke Mohr said. "The reason we need to look at different forms of government is the reason that everyone can be here and speak."
Article 76 | 7:00 p.m. A new outdoor lighting bylaw proposed by Gail Walker - the founder of the Nantucket Lights group - was approved by voters after an extensive debate. The hand count vote was as follows: Yes: 298, No: 152. Read the text of the new bylaw here. The proposal is a bid to fight light pollution on Nantucket. "We need to strike a balance," said Danielle O'Dell, a wildlife ecologist for the Nantucket Conservation Foundation. An amendment put forward by Nantucket Public Schools superintendent Beth Hallett to exempt all Nantucket municipal buildings and parking lots, the public schools campus, public safety buildings, and Nantucket Cottage Hospital was defeated on a hand count: Yes: 169, No: 288. "This article honors our cultural heritage, and especially with respect to Maria Mitchell, the island’s first female astronomer. "You can’t study the stars if you can’t see them...I fully believe reducing light pollution and providing for safety are not mutually exclusive goals."
Article 73 | 6:15 p.m. Campbell Sutton's citizen petition for any air-conditioning or air-handling equipment, swimming pool or spa pump, or an exhaust fan, to not exceed 55 decibels over a ten-minute period of time from a distance of 30 feet or more from the source of the sound (the current bylaw has the distance set at 40 feet) or the property line of the premises the noise activity is happening on at anytime, day or night, was defeated on a voice vote.
Article 72 | 6:05 p.m. Bruce Mandel's citizen petition to ban electric bikes, scooters and other motorized devices from Nantucket's bike paths was defeated on a voice vote. Numerous attendees criticized the potential ban and the concept of forcing e-bike users onto busy roads such as Milestone Road and Fairgrounds Road. "Twelve-year-old kids should not be driving down the Sconset Road on an electric bike," said former Select Board member Bob DeCosta. "I can’t even believe we’re discussing this."
Article 68 | 5:36 p.m. A motion from the Planning Board to take no action on Article 68, a proposed zoning change for properties on Evergreen Way and Airport Road to convert them from R-40 to CN, was adopted. A neighbor said he had met with Nantucket Island Safe Harbor For Animals (NISHA) board members, who agreed to table the proposal for further discussion.
Article 67 | 5:30 p.m. Article 67, another zoning change submitted by Linda Williams on behalf of the Glowacki family, seeks to change properties off Old South Road and Miller Lane from R-20 zoning to R-10. It was similarly called by Nantucket Land Council executive director Emily Molden, who suggested the housing covenant program to create permanent restrictions would be a more favorable choice than a zoning change to allow more density. It was approved on a majority voice vote.
Article 66 | 5:25 p.m. Article 66, a zoning map change to convert properties on Old South Road, Little Isle Lane, Miller Lane, and Airport Road from R-20 to CN was adopted on a headcount. The vote was: Yes: 207, No: 125. The article had been submitted by island resident Linda Williams on behalf of the Glowacki and Bunting families to allow them to develop the lots with commercial and residential uses. The article had been called by Nantucket Land Council executive director Emily Molden, who stated "I recognize the island’s need for more commercial properties and I understand the island's need for community housing. This zoning change will clearly increase density in this area. Of those four lots, I calculated, they can be subdivided into 11 lots. It seems incredibly important at this juncture that if we increase density, there should be consideration of whether that benefits the community." She said the covenant housing program should be considered first.
Look for more coverage in Wednesday morning's edition of Nantucket Current.