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Planning Board Minutes 04/16/14

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


DATE:           April 16, 2014
TIME:                   7:14 PM

PLACE:          Town Hall Annex

ATTENDANCE:     Aldrin, Peak, Seidman, Thompson and Doble
ABSENT:         Stephenson

BILLS:          Educomp…………………………..$23.43

MINUTES:                As referred in the, 2013 Meeting Agenda
                        02 April 2014   Deferred


7:15 PM David Sweitzer, Caretaker for Chris Sze  Re: 95 Beach Road Plan, AP 09B24
                Attendance: Allison Conway-Lohan

Mr. Sweitzer indicated that the property owner, C. Sze wanted to rent paddle boats and operate an ice cream shop during the summer.  A. Peak noted that the paddle boat rentals was a water dependent use, and permissible.  D. Seidman did not believe the ice cream shop was permitted because C. Sze wanted to keep the shop open into the evening, so that the ice cream could be sold to the general public.

A. Peak agreed that the scale of the activity made a difference. If the ice cream shop was operated separately from the boat paddle rentals as a secondary business, it would exceed the limitations of the bylaw.  D. Sweitzer inquired if C. Sze could operate the ice cream shop during business hours. D. Seidman referred to C. Sze’s handout and noted that it appeared that he wanted to draw the general public into the ice cream shop.

A. Peak agreed with D. Seidman, but thought one way to deal with the particular situation, was to use the building as a basis for a limited endeavor,  so that the ‘use’ (i.e. cart) could be located in the Commercial Management Area and moved in and out from the front of the building.  Questions arose with regards to the depth of the lot.  A. Conway-Lohan, real estate agent informed the board that the lot was 7,098 sq. ft., 50 ft. wide and 110 ft. deep.  The Commercial Management Area lay beyond 100 ft. from mean high water, so that even a limited endeavor would not be possible.

Joe Kenney indicated that he was interested in possibly operating an art gallery and studio on the property, and wanted to know if it was feasible. The activity was strictly indoors so that it would not harm any of the natural vegetation or scallop beds. A. Peak and D. Seidman reiterated that the use had to be water dependent. The only way they could consider non-water related uses was to have the bylaw amended.  A. Conway-Lohan thought the regulations contradicted what she believed was the purpose of protecting the waters, if they were willing to allow the pollution of the lagoon with petrol (boats).  A. Peak clarified that the purpose of the regulation was to protect the water dependent uses in the district from being replaced by other commercial activities.

D. Seidman noted that there was an apartment on the first and second floor. A. Peak explained that they allowed the applicant to construct the apartment in the rear, on the first and second floors so that he could have a commercial area up front on the first floor. A. Conway-Lohan inquired if the Board would give the property owner some flexibility, if he forwent the construction of a separate single family structure.  A. Peak noted that the regulations were very restrictive, so that it would not be possible.

A. Conway-Lohan inquired about the alternative i.e. bylaw amendment.  A. Peak described the process, and recommended that they work with the Planning Board on the language, because the process was quite involved.

7:25 PM Mark London and Commissioners: Clarence Barnes, Madeline Fisher and Fred Hancock (Chairman) Re: Scenic Roads
Attendance: H. Lee, D. Hodsdon, A. Conway-Lohan, Carolyn Little

F. Hancock wanted to discuss an initiative the Commissioners recently started that tied into other projects the Commission had been working on in the past, namely the Island Road District. The Island Road District granted the towns regulatory powers over certain designated roads, including the scenic roads.  F. Hancock explained that they’ve established a Scenic Roads Committee, who was working on an initiative for which they were soliciting comments from various town boards.

M. London, MV Commission Executive Director came prepared with a power point presentation on the subject, reiterating that it was for the purpose of soliciting the board’s initial feedback. He explained that the MV Commission created Scenic Roads Committee a few weeks ago, made up of Commissioners, and town representatives.  They’ve written the Board of Selectmen in December 2013 about the Committee and followed up with another letter in February 2014 to advise them of their progress, and to ask them for representatives willing to serve on the Committee.   They were also preparing for a “kick-off” meeting on April 30, 2014.

M. London explained that the power point presentation consisted of three sections. The first addressed the concerns that were raised with respect to the island roads, the second section demonstrated what’s been done to protect the island roads, and the third portion of the presentation was basically left open for a discussion.  The presentation began with an illustration of the stereotypical images people envisioned for scenic roads, followed by actual illustrations of public right-of-ways and sides of roads.  In past discussions about scenic roads, the MV Commission compiled a list of issues from the comments they’ve solicited, including:
a.      Width of travel lanes,
b.      Presence and width of shoulders,
c.      Treatment of edges and curbs
d.      Presence of barriers (steel) & the design of barriers
e.      Presence of bicycle paths (median strips are usually dirt)
f.      Public signage (sudden surge of reflectors all over the place)
g.      Vegetation (how far back should trees be trimmed or cleared from the road, an maintenance) and
h.      Bus stops (On Demand Stops can be disruptive).

M. London noted that it was important to recognize that roads were categorized differently based on use (i.e. arterial, collector), ownership (i.e. public, private) and other attributes, so that the prescribed improvements were going to be different. On island, private roadside developments presented an issue, because they did not have a uniformed or consistent set of regulations to control their visual impact from the road. Presently there were 540 undeveloped, private properties abutting their scenic roads. If only ten percent were built, they would forever alter the character of the road.

Board members viewed the projected images of the roads (highlighted in orange) that were believed to be within Tisbury’s Island Road District by the MV Commission’s GIS Coordinator. They included Lambert’s Cove Road, State Road and the end of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.  D. Seidman inquired if the state highway could be within the district. M. London replied in the affirmative, and explained that the regulations did not impact the actual construction of the road because it was intended to affect the development alongside the road. At present they did not regulate ‘no-cut’ buffers, fences or vegetation. F. Hancock indicated that they could, if they opted to adopt them.  The MV Commission applied these requirements for the larger development’s that get referred as  DRIs. They’ve developed a standard i.e. DRI Landscape & Design Policy, all applicants are required to meet.

M. London indicated that the MV Commission began working on the Scenic Roads a couple of years ago when they hired an intern, who road all of the main public roads on bike for the purpose of mapping out the extent of the Roadside Viewsheds to create an inventory. The inventory has been expanded and utilized to identify the most critical open space (green shaded area) on factoring environmental elements possible DRI review.

The MV Commission’s staff was also going to assist the Committee by draft the “Request for expression of interest” to solicit engineering consultants for the purpose of helping them start the process. They were going to pull together design manuals and other relevant documents, and hire an intern to measure and identify the characteristics of typical cross sections of all of the roads on the island.

M. London indicated that the Committee was going to be asked to focus on three objectives.  They (MV Commission and town) were going to meet with representatives from  NStar a couple times a year to go over various aspects of their (NStar) projects, including, but not limited to herbicides, the advance notice of pole upgrades, and the mitigation of impacts (tree planting program, undergrounding utilities in certain areas, etc.)
The Committee was to provide input on the prioritization of short term projects, the Joint Transportation Committee (includes town representatives)  reviewed and allocated funds towards under the Transportation Improvement Program (for certain projects on certain eligible roads). It was his opinion that the Committee could help with the road improvements, (i.e. lane width, shoulder width, bicycle paths, integrating bus stops) recommended for Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.

M. London noted that the Committee’s third objective was to design a manual that would establish standards for road improvements, develop a tree planting program and recommend zoning regulations to address fences, the location of curb cuts, etc.

M. London thought they could assist with public outreach (forums, surveys) to raise public awareness and to solicit the community’s thoughts and concerns about the roads. The information would be useful to moving forward on the project. He also thought they had to make sure that they coordinated their project with the state’s Complete Streets program to avoid any conflicts.
At the conclusion of the presentation, M. London indicated that he was interested in soliciting the Board’s comments on three specific questions.  He asked the board members:
1. What are your greatest concerns related to roads (both in Tisbury and the Island as a whole)?
2. Which roads or sections of roads need the greatest attention?
3. What strategies would be most useful in protecting or restoring the scenic roads?

C. Barnes, Tisbury’s elected representative on the MV Commission, explained that the Commission’s efforts to preserve the scenic roads originated with Craig Whittaker’s complaint about the sudden proliferation of reflective signs. He’s witnessed it, and thought our town officials could approach the state to ask them to “tone it down” because it was excessive. He thought the most important issue that needed to be addressed was the loss of the road’s beautiful vegetation.  NStar and the local DPWs have contributed to their destruction under the guise of “necessity”, without any consideration to the accumulative effects.

C. Barnes noted that there were many issues, but felt they had to prioritize their efforts, starting with the smaller issues, such as the signs. He thought half of the signs should be removed and the other half “could be more attractive”.  They had to start making an attempt to turn the tide, to “get the idea rolling”, even though “it all boils down to good behavior”.   They needed a guideline “to save the roads”.

M. Fisher agreed with C. Barnes, noting that NStar’s actions on Edgartown-Vineyard Road instigated their reaction and concern over the issue of control(s).  She wanted a system in place where they could communicate their concerns to NStar and the Mass Dot prior to any work. M. Fisher mentioned that she worked with C. Whittaker to develop  a list of nine issues they had to address “to re-ruralize” their roads.  She offered to provide the Board with a copy of the list.

F. Hancock noted that NStar as a practice has been approaching the towns individual, and wanted to change the process so that they met with representatives from all of the towns, because the scale of their projects have always impacted more than one town.  

R. Aldrin believed the island had lost its charm with the telephone poles and lines of wire, and has stopped cruising down the island roads because of NStar’s projects. Their work on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road demonstrated that the tree canapies so prized by the islanders and the island’s visitors were of no consequence, by the way they tore, and shredded the tree limbs.

J. Thompson was very upset with NStar for destroying the tree canopy on Edgartown Road, and did not know how they could prevent a large utility corporation from repeating it. He felt it was a form of punishment for questioning NStar’s project.

C. Doble was concerned that they were being left out of the decision making process, and believed the process had to be changed so that they had a voice on major projects that would allow for feedback and modifications. She agreed that signage and vegetation was a clear problem on the island, and moreso with vegetation because it gave the roads character on many levels (scale to the road, slows traffic).  It was important that people understand proper pruning methods, and the maintenance issues involved with the vegetation they select.   C. Doble inquired if the towns could use the Site Design Guidelines the MV Commission for DRI review.  M. London replied in the affirmative.

C. Doble mentioned that State Road and Edgartown Road were very complicated, so that in all likelihood they were going to have to rely on professional consultants to address some of the issues.  She asked M. London how they planned to coordinate and address the different issues towns may not share.  F. Hancock anticipated there would be conflicts. An island wide perspective should allow them the flexibility to review and evaluate the different issues.

J. Thompson inquired if NStar, private groups or individuals were the most harmful.  NStar. D Seidman thought NStar had the legal right to make the “improvements” since 1950s.  He did not think they had a standing to stop them from clearing the path for the poles. M. London mentioned that NStar claimed they had the legal right to increase the height of the poles without town permission, but did have to secure the town’s consent to install mid-span poles. He added that NStar did admit that they were brutal on trimming down the trees for the poles.  

A. Peak agreed with most of the concerns, and felt that the MV Commission had to lobby the state to get them to regulate the public utilities, so that they no longer had free reign to operate as they pleased because of their designation as an essential service. The Mass Highway Department had recently modified their manual to allow for a more rural character option. It was worth reviewing.  He questioned if “Home Rule” applied, and noted that the MV Commission’s enabling legislation broadly mandated them “to do what the island wanted”.  He also questioned if the process could lead them to consider changing the Island Road District to an island road district DCPC. M. London noted that the Island Road District was a DCPC. A. Peak recommended designating all state, county and public roads part of the DCPC and making the regulations more restrictive.  He reiterated that it was important to enlist the state’s assistance, because they presently required 80 ft. wide curb cuts on roads such as Beach Road.  He questioned the logic in having private property owners comply when they only had 50 ft. of frontage.

H. Lee has viewed the power point presentation on another occasion, and is still confused about the Commission’s overall goal for the Scenic Road, and plan to remedy the existing issues as they pertained to the aesthetics. He felt part of the issues were that towns were not maintaining their paths properly, or accommodating motorists with turnouts for emergencies.  The occasional turnout would prevent from pulling over into the path at random points. H. Lee offered various options or solutions to getting the utility company, and town residents to comply with town’s efforts. He thought it important for the island to demonstrate its ‘uniqueness’ so that they can substantiate their request.

F. Hancock understood that the subject was multi-faceted, but they had to review all of the components and achieve an island consensus to develop a set of standards. In many cases NStar and Mass DOT have not always been happy to recognize island authority, and have responded negatively to challenges. If they were to develop a working relationship with these entities, they had to engage them as equals.  D. Seidman thought they had to demonstrate why they were different and why they would want to help them remain different.  He questioned whether these entities considered them ‘unique’.

M. London believed they could start discussing their issues with these entities at any time. Their reactions may vary, but it did not prevent them from approaching them to initiate a working relationship.  D. Seidman thought they should have contacted Edward Panek, Mass DOTs representative on the island to work on State Road. M. Fisher agreed, and noted that he was going to be invited.

D. Hodsdon thought it was naïve for anyone on dealing with a corporation coming to the island that they could establish a working relationship with that entity, when all they were concerned with was the bottom line.

Due to the late hour, A. Peak interrupted the discussions to advise everyone that the Planning Board had to conclude conversation to address other matters listed on the meeting agenda. The discussions closed at 9:15 PM.


1. Henry Stephenson
RE: Outstanding Issues concerning the Stop & Shop Proposal (Draft Letter)

D. Seidman was concerned that H. Stephenson’s personal letter listed his credential as Planning Board Co-Chairman in his opening comment. As he read the letter, it implied to him that the comments in the letter were not solely his, but opinions shared with fellow Planning Board members.  He also did not understand why he had to email the letter to a total of 25 people, or what their connections were to the MV Commission.  A. Peak assumed they were all involved or interested in the project, and that he wanted to communicate his thoughts on the subject.

A. Peak thought H. Stephenson had distanced himself sufficiently from the Planning Board in the opening comment. He did not did not have an issue with H. Stephenson’s credential, as they were valid. R. Aldrin and C. Doble did not mistake H. Stephenson’s letter than an expression of his personal opinions.  R. Aldrin noted that the letter was signed by H. Stephenson.

A. Peak understood that there were elements of the letter that D. Seidman disagreed on. He asked if he would share those with the Board. D. Seidman did not think the building was too big, or that H. Stephenson should tell the applicant that the building should be LEED certified. A. Peak believed it was a person’s right to express their personal opinion(s). D. Seidman concurred, noting that the letter also suggested removing the bathrooms.  A. Peak noted that they’ve been removed from the building, because the town’s opted to keep the public restrooms.  D. Seidman mentioned that the public restrooms were not open year-round. He did not think that was good trade-off.

D. Hodsdon and H. Lee explained that the applicant removed the offer for the bathrooms, when they did not want to provide facilities of equal quality and amenities. The recommendation was therefore revised in favor for the improvement of the existing public restroom.

2. Senator Dan Wolf and Rep. Tim Madden’s Public Forum on 04/15/14
RE: Promotion of tourism, arts and culture

C. Doble attended the public forum and learned that the Massachusetts State Culture District was performing a site visit on April 24, 2014. The coordinators had approached C. Doble to ask if the Planning Board members would be available for the site visit, because it appeared that they were going to considered for the designation.  She planned to attend the walk, and encouraged fellow board members to join them.

3. Sparking New Ideas – Parking Strategies for Stronger Communities
RE: 08 April 2014 Webinar

C. Doble and the board secretary listened to the webinar and created reports for the Board’s reading.  She thought it provided useful information about controlling traffic by controlling and charging for parking at different levels.

She thought they presented very interesting strategies that they should discuss in greater detail relative to the town’s particular situation.

H. Lee was concerned that the Board of Selectmen was not interested in changing the management of their parking lots to charge for the spaces, when parking was so valuable.

4. D. Seidman, A. Peak, C. Doble
RE: Alternative Wastewater Treatment Systems Test Center (Nitrogen Mitigation)

A. Peak thoroughly enjoyed the field trip he and fellow board members, D. Seidman, and C. Doble attended to learn about the latest development in wastewater treatment and nitrogen treatment.  He thought the Planning Board should send Mr. Heufelder a box of Chilmark chocolates to thank him for accommodating them. Board members agreed.

5. Special and Annual Town Meeting
RE: April 29, 2014

A. Peak entertained a motion to meet concurrently with ATM & STM in the event they are asked to comment on their warrant articles.  A. Peak in addition asked for a fact sheet listing all of the bylaw amendments they were proposing, along with the Board’s votes. R. Adrin so moved. D. Seidman seconded the motion, which motion carried. 4/0/0


1.  Patrick J. Donovan, Morse Lane Subdivision
RE: Request for the Release of building lots (Form O), AP 03A07

Board members were advised that Mr. Donovan had submitted the documentation listed in the Decision, and proof of their recording at the Registry of Deeds to apply for the Release of the lots created in the Morse Lane Subdivision.

The documentation in question also included the surveyor’s letter attesting that the construction of the road complied with the specifications of the plans that were submitted to the Planning Board with the initial application.

D. Seidman moved to endorse the release the lots (1-3) created by the Morse Lane Subdivision Plan and sign the Form O prepared for Mr. Donovan et al.  R. Aldrin seconded the motion, which motion carried.  4/0/0

A. Peak inquired if they included within the decision that the applicant could not exist Lot #3 onto Main Street other than over the road. The board secretary replied in the affirmative.

2. Jay Grande, Town Administrator
A. Information on the extent public officials may act or speak in support or in opposition to a question submitted to voters
B. Memorandum of Agreement (Draft) between the town and Stop & Shop

3. MV Commission
A. 11 April 2014 MVC Extended Schedule
B. 17 April 2014 Meeting Agenda (Stop & Shop’s expansion)

A. Peak questioned whether the MV Commission could legally continue the public hearing without stating the specific time and place.  He referred to the extended meeting schedule and noticed that the Stop & Shop’s hearing was continued on May 1, 2014.  H. Lee explained that the Commissioners were meeting tomorrow to discuss the hearing on May 1, 2014.

A. Peak read that the Commission will be opening the hearing tomorrow only to continue it on May 1, 2014.

H. Lee had several questions about the legalities of the applicant’s use of private property to access public property, the use of easements without a public vote, the calculations the Board of Selectmen used to arrive at 1.65 million dollars, etc.  A Peak and fellow board members explained that they could not respond to his questions, because the lie outside their jurisdiction. A. Peak did however offer to stop by Town Hall to ask Jay Grande for the minutes of the MOA to find out how they arrived at the dollar amount.

PRO FORM        Meeting opened, conducted and closed in due form at 10:05 P.M.  (m/s/c  4/0/0)          
Respectfully submitted;
Patricia V. Harris, Secretary

APPROVAL:       Approved and accepted as official minutes;

______________  _________________________
Date            L. Anthony Peak