Hoarding Vs. Protecting The Island

Caroline R. Baltzer •

To the editor: Am I right to understand that descendants of seasonal families whose members have donated lands to the Nantucket Conservation Foundation for the benefit and enjoyment of all, and have been the primary supporters of many Island charities, have now become subject to the ban on most seasonal STRs caused by the ACKNow lawsuits? By definition, the seasonal usage of their homes is not a principal use, so these are now restricted.

Nantucket is 60% conserved thanks to the foresight, collaboration and generosity of so many families like some members of mine, like Charles Kimball and Anne Sanford, who wanted to preserve its timeless sense of place for future generations more than they wanted to cash out.” These donors were also investors in Nantucket, whose legacy benefits all residents and visitors decades later, not just their heirs.

It is a sad irony that those sweeping acts of conservation are now the main contributing factor in the astronomical rise of all the remaining property values, a phenomenon which has made attainable housing unreachable, and which unfortunately appears to attract a totally new kind of neighbor to this island. One that would threaten to sue their neighbor for renting. One that would build a swimming pool and sue neighbors for doing the exact same thing. And whats next? Maybe hiring a lawyer to do away with the only public tennis courts on the island after purchasing houses right above them. This isnt protecting the island”, it's hoarding it.

ACKnow was right: the Town of Nantucket did not properly zone their vacation rentals, and now one lawsuit brought the House down on this 150-year practice. On an island that only has 900 hotel rooms, this represents multi-millions of dollars in real estate value loss for those caught in the loophole as well as their heirs, and unknown consequences for year-rounders who depend on the islands heritage tourism. Its a hostile take-over of the Nantucket we all knew and loved if ever there was one.

But thankfully even if a Boston Judge couldnt stop the lawsuits, a Nantucket voter still can. I’ll be voting YES on Article #59. Its time for the Grey Lady to get off the pot and preserve her vacation accommodations in the zoning code.

— Caroline R. Baltzer, Ph.D

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