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Planning Board Minutes 07/25/12

P.O. BOX 602
(508) 696-4270
Fax (508) 696-7341


DATE:           July 25, 2012
TIME:           7:18 PM

PLACE:          Town Hall Annex

ATTENDANCE:     Aldrin, Peak, Seidman, Stephenson, Thompson
                        Selectmen: Israel, Krystal

MINUTES:                As referred in the July 18, 2012 Meeting Agenda
                        13 June 2012            M/S/C
                        20 June 2012            M/S/C
                        11 July 2012            M/S/C


7:18 PM House Business

Mr. Peak welcomed Mr. Israel and Mr. Krystal, the two members of the Board of Selectmen at the Planning Board’s meeting. Mr. Israel noted that the Board of Selectmen had scheduled a joint meeting with the Planning Board, which was posted according to the requirements of the Open Meeting Law.  Messrs. Peak and Israel jointly opened the meeting at 7:18 PM.

7:19 PM Tisbury Board of Selectmen and Bill Straw Re: Solar Installation at Septage Lagoons &           Pedestrian Issues & Infrastructure Improvements (Main Street-Water Street Parking Lot           Corridor)

Mr. Stephenson understood Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC) wanted to explore the possibility of using other sites to expand the first phase of their project. The objective for the expansion and additional solar equipment was to produce more power (i.e. overall target of 1.2 million megawatts). For tonight’s purposes, Mr. Straw wanted to discuss town-owned land referred to as the “septage lagoon” as a potential site for a large-scale, ground mounted solar installation.  

Mr. Straw began his presentation noting that the Planning Board at their regularly scheduled meeting on August 10, 2011 wrote a letter enumerating four (4) potential sites that could possibly accommodate the installation of large solar arrays for the second round of awards. He mentioned that the letter specifically stated, “the open and cleared area in the immediate vicinity of the septage lagoons on AP 42A18 provided the existing 20’to 40’ right-of-way access is maintained… might be acceptable”.  Before the property could be cleared for the second round of awards, they had to investigate whether the Dept of the National Heritage & Endangered Species would allow them to clear some of the trees to square off the area they needed. The Cape &Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC) hired LEC Environmental Consultants to conduct a study of the area, resulting in a report, stating that the proposed deforestation would actually improve the endangered moth’s habitat. CVEC subsequently contacted Broadway Renewable Strategies, LLC to prepare a plan with a more defined area for the solar panel layout. Mr. Straw provided copies of the plan to the Planning Board for discussion purposes. The plan was identified for the record as follows:

        The PV Solar Layout plan was prepared for CVEC Old Septage Dumping – Town of Tisbury,   MA – Old Holmes Road by Broadway Renewable Strategies, LLC on 10-21-11, with a scale of         1”=40’ (Dwg. PV-1)

Mr. Straw referred the Boards to the green-shaded areas on the plan, lying to the south and west of the septage lagoons that had to be cleared of all trees to eliminate the shade. Board members were advised that they had to clear approximately 1.04 acres of land from the 3 acres parcel.

Mr. Israel inquired if the cleared areas were accessible to the public, because he thought it could serve as an open area (or field) for the abutting dog park. Mr. Straw thought it possible, noting that solar array had to be fenced in for security purposes. Mr. Stephenson thought it should be investigated.

Mr. Straw wanted to explain the benefits of the installation, and mentioned that with the recently installed solar farm at the landfill, the Town was capable of generating 1.2 MEGS, and earning $60,000.00 a year for the next twenty (20) years. This did not include the savings; the Town was going to receive with the reduced rate (.06) for power for the same length of time.

Mr. Israel inquired about the next step in the process to move the project forward. Mr. Straw replied that they had to pursue a change in the zoning regulation, because the use was not permitted in the residential districts. Mr. Israel recalled that the town had given their approval to use the parcel of land for storage, specifically commercial vehicles, to provide town based companies a place to stage their equipment. The proposals they’ve entertained have been for more intense commercial activity. The last was for a transfer station for raw septage.  He believed that they would have to return to town meeting to rescind the approval.

Mr. Straw inquired if the Planning Board had designated the land for any particular municipal use. Mr. Stephenson replied that when the proposal was initially brought to the Board’s attention, the Planning Board did not have an issue with the use, as much as with the deforestation of the land and its consequences to the endangered species.

Mr. Krystal did not have an issue placing a solar array in the landfill, but questioned whether they should commit other municipal land for this particular use for the next twenty years.  He did not want to preclude the town from utilizing the properties for other purposes, i.e. affordable housing. Mr. Krystal indicated that he knew of an individual, who has expressed an interest in constructing housing on the site, but was not coming forward with the proposal, until the town completed its housing needs assessment in February 2013. Mr. Stephenson noted that the Planning Board, as a matter of principal never supported housing developments in the wooded areas.  They’ve always recommended having affordable housing concentrated in the established areas where commerce, transportation, and other amenities were available. He did not find the particular location ideal for any type of housing, given that it was so remote from town.

Mr. Krystal thought it was premature to eliminate the use of the land for affordable housing before they’ve reviewed report or considered the investor’s proposal.  Mr. Stephenson reiterated that it was not practical to place a housing development in a remote area, without the support of an established infrastructure.  Mr. Krystal did not see why other municipal uses (i.e. housing) could not co-exist with large-scale, ground mounted solar installations.

Mr. Israel inquired if the Planning Board objected to the use of the septage lagoon for the solar panel array. Mr. Stephenson replied on the Board’s behalf to state that the Planning Board did not object to the proposal, as much as they were uncertain about committing town-owned land to a specific use for the next twenty years, without knowing if there were other beneficial uses for the land. The only issue with the proposal for the solar panel array was that they had to cut down more trees.  

Mr. Straw stressed to the town officials that the consent for the use of the property was very important, because they ran the risk of having the property dropped of the A List. CVEC had to know, because they were investing in the site. If the parcel of land was no longer a viable option, he wanted to inform CVEC so that they could move forward on other locations.

Mr. Israel acknowledged the Planning Board’s concern, and inquired if the property was not the appropriate location for the solar panel array, he wanted to know if there were other more appropriate locations. He favored a proactive course that would allow the town to reduce their expenditures on power.

Mr. Frank Brunelle observed that no one raised the use of vertical access wind towers as an alternative source of power. Mr. Israel informed Mr. Brunelle that the town had a met tower installed to study the town’s potential for wind energy, and it did not succeed.  He explained that the solar panel array was being discussed because CVEC had contracted a company to install the solar panels on town owned property at no cost to them.  Mr. Brunelle just wanted to add to the table that wind power and solar power could co-exist, so that they did not eliminate the possibility from future consideration.

Mr. Seidman clarified for the record that the Planning Board never had an issue with the use of the lot, as long as the town had the option to relocate the solar panels elsewhere if the property was to be used for another purpose. Mr. Stephenson did not believe they were in the position to make a decision this evening without looking at other alternatives.  Mr. Israel did not see why CVEC could not continue to move forward on the project, because a final determination would not be feasible until the Annual Town Meeting. In the interim, they could pursue the zoning bylaw amendment, wait for the Housing Needs Assessment and give the Planning Board time to review alternative uses for the land. By that time they should be able to make a determination.

Second Potential Site – Next to the new Water Tower Tank on AP 22A11, High Point Lane

Mr. Straw wanted to solicit the town’s consent to install another solar panel array that was capable of generating 70,000 watts of power next to the location of the new water tower, and in close proximity to the sewage treatment plant, which uses 100,000 watts of power.

Mr. Stephenson noted that the site was discussed by the Planning Board as a potential site for the Water Department and other municipal buildings that would also benefit from being in close proximity to the DPW. He clarified that the one area of agreement that existed between them was that they wanted to integrate energy development and sustainability in all of their municipal projects.  

Mr. Israel and Mr. Krystal did not see why CVEC could not proceed with the process, until they obtain a final vote at town meeting.

Mr. Brunelle thought that the town should also consider that while there are many advantages to pursuing alternative energy to replace conventional energy sources, they should be taking more proactive steps in conserving energy (usage, construction materials, etc.).   Mr. Stephenson noted that the town had just met with the state to discuss their “Green Community” designation. Over the course of the conversation, they learned that it was very cost prohibitive to retrofit existing dwellings to make them more energy efficient, so that if they wanted to encourage their residents to make their homes more energy efficient, they should provide a mechanism that allow them to secure funds to do so.

Mr. Straw once again asked the Board for their opinions about the second location. Mr. Aldrin did not have any objections. Mr. Stephenson reiterated that he did not want to preclude the town from utilizing the property for other municipal uses for the next twenty years. He did not understand why the existing array could not feed the sewage treatment plant.

Mr. LaPiana explained that the solar panel array was feeding power to a separate grid, and distant from the sewage plant (1500 ft.) The proposed solar panel array was a separate system, close enough to provide 75% of the sewage treatment plant’s power.

Mr. Straw believed they could relocate the panels provided the roof surface of the new structure was designed to accommodate 70,000 watts of power. Mr. Stephenson inquired if it was possible to construct the solar array in modules, so that they can be easily removed and transferred to a building.   Mr. Straw asked if they knew the type and size of structure they wanted to construct. Mr. Stephenson replied thought that it would be similar in size and design of the DPW building.

Mr. Stephenson indicated that he would not have an issue with the installation of the ground mounted solar panel installation, if the designer coordinated the design of the layout with the Building Department and the DPW so that the framework would allow them to remove and relocate the panels onto a structure.  Mr. Israel agreed with the recommendation.  Mr. Straw requested a letter confirming the town’s position on this site.

Mr. Stephenson agreed and entertained a motion to support CVEC’s effort  to develop a 70,000 watts solar array on a site adjacent to the new water tower, with the understanding that the design of the solar array will be structured in modules that will allow it to be relocated to the roof a new building. Mr. Seidman so moved.  Mr. Aldrin seconded the motion, which motion carried

The discussions closed at 8:10

7:45 PM Bill Veno and Fred LaPiana Re: Beach Road Shared Use Path project (Wind’s Up to                 Saltwater) and ideas for accommodating bikes on Skiff Av.
                Attendance: Frank and Vasha Brunelle, Bill Straw

Mr. Veno, a planner at the MV Commission and member of the Commission’s Pedestrian & Bicycle Planning Advisory Committee to the Joint Transportation Committee opened the discussions, noting that he had met with the Planning Board a couple of years ago to discuss the recommendations of a feasibility study they had conducted to bridge the gaps in the Shared-use Paths (SUPs) network in town.

During the first year, the Advisory Committee focused on six (6) segments of the path connecting Winds UP at the base of the bridge on Beach Road to Five Corners, Lagoon Pond Road and Edgartown Road with a link through Veteran’s Park. Board members were referred to an 8.5” X 11” copy of a plan illustrating the path, which included both existing and proposed SUPs.

Mr. Veno informed the Board that the state was planning to construct a sidewalk on both sides of Beach Road along section C (Winds Up to the Tisbury Market Place) because it was heavily a developed commercial area, they had to provide sidewalks on both sides of Beach Road. The sidewalks eliminated space required for a SUP so that the layout had to be revised. A cross section of the road included a 40 ft wide layout with two – 10.5 ft. wide travel lanes, a 5 ft. separation from the road and a 10 ft. wide SUP.  The two (2) travel lanes had to be narrowed a bit and shifted towards the harbor to achieve the desired cross section. Mr. LaPiana acknowledged that the proposal had issues, and these were brought forward by the state, which had sent them a letter recommending a meeting to discuss the subject.

Mr. Veno indicated that time was a factor for this project, given that it was targeted for the next round of funds from the Transportation Improvement Funds, after the roundabout was constructed.

Mr. Brunelle a town resident and avid cyclist shared his experiences with the Board to explain some of the issues he has had to deal with while riding down Beach Road from his residence to various destinations. The biggest issue with the proposal was that it did not remove the telephone poles on north side of Beach Road. They were difficult to pass, and dangerous in that it forced cyclists and pedestrians to walk on the road to get around them just to get back on the sidewalk.  He also thought the layout in Section C (Tisbury Market Place then behind Maciel’s Marine onto other sections [D & F] to the SSA) was too circuitous and impractical, because the norm was to take a more direct route to your destination. He also thought the connection to D could be accomplished with a simple crosswalk.

Mr. Straw, a town resident and avid cyclist commonly took the circuitous route past the Brunelle’s residence on Beach Road to head towards the Tisbury Market Place to use the orange bridge before heading behind Maciel’s Marine. It was the norm on the Vineyard, and the intent of the proposal to develop a more formal route back through the boat yard to get to Lagoon Pond Road.  Mr. Straw conceded that he too would take a more direct route to the SSA.

Mr. Veno noted that the proposal took into consideration the different levels of experiences, and the large number of novices that visited the Vineyard. Mr. Brunelle countered that he did not have an issue with the one alternative being presented, but that it should not the only alternative on the table. He believed there were other possibilities, such as removing the telephone poles and putting the path on the north, so cyclists can travel down the south and north sides of the road or take the proposed alternative path     to their primary destination, i.e. Five Corners and into town.

Mr. Stephenson inquired how cyclists were going to negotiate the crossover from the sidewalk which was located on the south side of Beach Road in section B and the bike path that was being proposed on the north side in section C.   He thought there was an advantage to having a continuous corridor along the entire stretch of the road.

Mr. Brunelle thought the best scenario was to have SUPs on both sides of the road.  Mr. Stephenson noted that they were going to have a sidewalk on the north side and the SUP on the south side of the road and bridge. Mr. Brunelle suggested using the SUPs as an impetus to get the poles installed underground, otherwise it would never happen.

Mr. LaPiana thought they should concentrate their efforts on the SUP in segment C, and work towards expanding the project to Five Corners. He suggested having the Planning Board write both NStar and the Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation a letter expressing their concerns about the narrow sidewalks and telephone poles. He recommended adding language in the letter that spoke of the telephone poles’ created a public safety hazard for both pedestrians and cyclists which could resolved if they installed the poles underground. Mr. LaPiana thought it was important to advise them timing was an issue, since they were all presenting looking at Section C.

Mr. Brunelle noted that the curb on the north side of Beach Road past the Shell Station squeezed you in. The telephone poles compounded the problem and made it very dangerous to pass.

The second link to the potential SUP network, Mr. Veno wanted to present and discuss ran from Lagoon Pond Road – Veteran’s Park (existing park SUP) – Causeway Road. - Skiff Ave. to Edgartown Road.  He noted that the proposed route was approximately the same distance as the current path (Lagoon Pond Rd – Skiff Ave. - Edgartown Road, except that the latter eliminated the steepest hill and sharp turn on Causeway Road by Dunham Ave. Mr. Veno noted that only 35 ft of  40 ft. right-of way on Skiff Ave was being utilized at the moment, and presented some challenges. Like Beach Road there were telephone poles that they had to contend with and an issue with speed. Cars have been clocked to go as fast as 40 mph downhill.

Board members were referred to Figure 6 entitled Segment 1 – Beach Road SUP to Edgartown Road SUP/Section 1.5 Causeway Road to Edgartown Road. Mr. Seidman questioned the 40 ft layout. Mr. LaPiana replied that there was 28 ft of paved road from curb to curb, excluding the sidewalks. Mr. Siedman inquired if they were proposing to expand the sidewalks.  It was implied that he was correct.

Mr. LaPiana noted that Skiff Avenue was in disrepair, and due to come up for discussion at the MV Commission, who will be presenting the three options that were being presented tonight to redesign the road so that it could accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. Mr. Veno affirmed Mr. LaPiana’s comment, and once again referred the board to the cross section diagrams depicted in Figure 6. He explained that the optimal plan would be to remove the sidewalk, and then place the SUP on the opposite side of the road. The cars would then be able to park on the side without the telephone poles. He thought they might be able to pull the curb out at the parking lane, since they could be used for parking. There was some concern about mixing pedestrians and cyclists on the SUP if it was going to be reduced in width. He believed they should not be narrower than 10 ft. in width.

Mr. LaPiana canvassed the neighborhood to solicit their opinions about improving the road. He learned that they did not like changes, but approved of any improvement to the sidewalk, provided it did not impact their parking. It also explained why they preferred a 4 ft. wide painted bike lane on the opposite side of the sidewalk travelling up hill towards Edgartown Road, and continue allowing cyclists to use the road going downhill from Edgartown Road towards Lagoon Pond Road.

Mr. Seidman thought the optimal scenario would be to have the car lanes, a 2 ft. barrier, a bike lane and a separate sidewalk. Mr. Stephenson inquired if the alternative could provide access to the museum and reconnect to some of the existing pathways.  Mr. LaPiana thought they could provide a bike/pedestrian lane in the back end coming off Skiff Ave. to the hospital. He added that they were going to be adding a sidewalk on Lagoon Pond side of the road, with little room for a bike lane or anything else.

Mr. Brunelle agreed that any alternative to the uphill climb was an improvement.

Mr. LaPiana inquired if they thought they should have a painted line for the bike path or multiple curb.  Mrs. Brunelle recommended a mountable curb. Mr. Brunelle noted that the curbs that the town has installed have been very high. The older curbs were lower and placed at a gentler angle for bike traffic. Mr. LaPiana explained that the state wanted higher curbs, and the town requested a compromise.

Mr. LaPiana requested a clarification. He wanted to make sure if they supported the 4 ft painted lane. Mr. Stephenson deferred to the cyclists.

Mr. Stephenson also asked Mr. Veno if he would spend a couple of minutes discussing Segment D. He wanted to know if this segment could be moved along. Mr. LaPiana believed the segment has a lot of support. The Department of Environmental Protection has required Mr. Dun to design and construct the bike path within the Tisbury Market Place.  Mr. LaPiana indicated that there was a problem extending the bike path past Gannon & Benjamin’s building onto Maciel Marine’s property, but thinks he may have a solution. Mr. Veno indicated that the Tisbury Market Place did not to encumber the entrance into the parking lot on Beach Road, which presented a problem for the proposal.


1. Planning Board August Meeting Schedule (8/1, 8/8, 8/15, 8/22, 8/29)

Mr. Seidman recommended revising their meeting schedule so that they meet on the second and fourth weeks of every month. The months with a fifth week could be reserved for meetings, if it was necessary, otherwise they would not meet. . Mr. Stephenson  favored bi-weekly meetings, and moved to revise their regular meeting schedule so that they will conduct meetings on 8/8, 8/22, 9/05, and 9/19/12. The Board m/s/c Mr. Stephenson’s recommendation. 5/0/0

2. Michael D. Giggey, PE
RE:  Request for comments/questions relative to July 23, 2012 Meeting

PRO FORM        Meeting opened, conducted and closed in due form at 9:35 P.M.           (m/s/c  4/0/0)