Dear "Put Nantucket Neighborhoods First" - Step Into The Light

Stephen Maury •

To the editor: Dear Put Nantucket Neighborhoods First - Step into the light.

When Peter McCausland declared his withdrawal from the short-term rentals debate alongside ACK Now, many of us found hope in the grassroots movement of local voters dubbed Put Nantucket Neighborhoods First. It's a principle we can all support. So why not step forward, reveal your identities on your website, and stand beside your ideas?

You're eager for people to see as an organization rather than simply a website I created that shares the stories of my friends and your neighbors. Despite my numerous attempts via email, text, social media, and in-person conversations to correct this misrepresentation, including reaching out to Charity Benz, Emmy Kilvert, and Matt Peel among others mentioned in your mass-mailing a month ago, not a single response was received.

On Sunday afternoon, on a trip to Stop & Shop, I encountered Leslie Forbes and Ms. Benz campaigning with their road signs. In front of my six-year-old son, I reiterated my request for the website to be updated, clarifying my involvement as an individual rather than as the founding member of a special interest group. Ms. Forbes stated that she wasn't personally responsible for updating the website and couldn't assist. Ms. Benz mentioned that she would consider my request but could not commit to anything.

Emmy Kilvert, you question my grasp of Nantucket's housing situation derisively and rhetorically asking if I live in an alternate reality. This is particularly insulting because while you spend your winters in Aspen, I spend my time deeply involved in public and nonprofit endeavors focused on affordable housing in addition to personally contributing to year-round affordable housing. I am intimately acquainted with our community's needs. Should you wish to witness firsthand what's happening, simply reply to my message, and I'll gladly provide directions to a meeting.

I stand by my statement: Nantucket has seen an increase, not a decline, in year-round homes over the past 10 and 20 years. Peter McCausland possesses the data; let me know if you require the links.

Don’t tell a lie about me and I won’t tell the truth about you.

I won't explore the familial connections between the leadership of Put Nantucket Neighborhoods First and the Inquirer and Mirror's editorial board. However, it seems significant that your political advertisements were funded by personal checks but published under the name of your fictitious group, which isn't registered anywhere and they list a newly registered PO Box instead of a physical address.

Furthermore, I won't reveal the identity of the local business owner and PNNF member who planned to photograph voters on Article 59, intending to disclose those who voted affirmatively to members of "the clubs," potentially risking their employment as a means of retribution for opposing your desires. While this plan is likely unlawful, it highlights the detachment of at least one member of your group from Nantucket. It's worth noting that the voting procedures at Town Meetings haven't relied on raised hands for quite some time. These nuances are more apparent to those who reside on the island.

I choose not to delve into these topics because, despite our disagreements, I trust that you genuinely want what's best for our community.

Here's a crucial point to consider as you work on your short-term rental proposal for the upcoming Special Town Meeting in the Fall: We lack data on the number of properties eligible for rental and their potential duration under any definition of accessory use. Without a functional local registry, we do not know how short-term rentals are being used, and homeowners haven't been asked to keep track of the nights spent in their properties.

Undoubtedly, there will be some decrease in rental properties—a goal you've made clear. Yet, the extent of this reduction and its impact on visitor numbers, crucial for sustaining local businesses and activities, remains uncertain.

"Incrementalism," Anne Dewez told me, "is the reason to vote no on Article 59." Cut short-term rentals now and add them back a little at a time, she says, while acknowledging that she has no data to indicate how many properties will fit under the accessory use definition. Ms. Dewez believes the local registry will provide that information, seemingly unaware that the registry has only just launched and is not mandatory, so it will not yield meaningful results for more than a year.

This poses a significant risk for those of us who live and work here on Nantucket. Do you understand why we're concerned? Sharing who is in your group might help reassure us, knowing you'll also be affected. Then again, maybe not.

Looking forward to fostering a more honest and respectful dialogue in the days ahead.

Stephen Maury

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