2019 Annual Town Meeting and Town Election
Annual Town Meeting
The 2019 Annual Town Meeting (“ATM”) began on Monday, April 1, 2019 and concluded on Tuesday, April 2nd. Of the 87 articles on the warrant, 17 were ultimately called for discussion (several were initially called but then the calls were withdrawn). Several of the articles seeking appropriation for capital projects were called and discussed (and all of them were approved). Some were not called and were approved. A citizen article seeking an appropriation for affordable housing purposes was approved, contingent upon a debt exclusion, for $20,000,000. Few zoning articles were discussed and all were acted upon as recommended by the Planning Board. Click here to view the warrant and here to view a summary of the votes taken.
All bylaw amendments that were approved, including zoning, will require Attorney General approval to be effective. The Home Rule Petitions that were adopted will require the approval of the state legislature to become effective. Following Town Meeting, I reviewed follow-up actions with the Select Board. Several items have been completed, while a number of items are on-going.
During and following Town Meeting a couple of questions have arisen about some of the actions taken, I wanted to explain them, because we have received them several times:
Q. Didn’t Town Meeting previously vote to deny the proposed round-about at Fairgrounds/Old South Road? Why was it on the warrant, again?
A. The 2018 ATM voted to approve Article 15 (Old South Road Area Transportation Improvements) (proposed scope included a round-about at Old South-Fairgrounds) for $14,000,000 (vote was Yes – 405; No – 115). The vote was contingent upon a ballot vote for a debt exclusion at the 2018 Annual Town Election. That vote, failed. (Debt exclusions require affirmative votes of both Town Meeting and an Election). Subsequently, the Board decided to split the project in two, with two articles on the October 10, 2018 Special Town Meeting I warrant: Article 6 (Old South Road Area Transportation Improvements) for $5.1 million and Article 7 (Milestone Road Area Transportation Improvements) for $7.6 million. Both articles were contingent upon ballot votes for debt exclusions at an Election on November 6, 2018. Special Town Meeting appropriations require a quorum of voters and the quorum was not achieved, therefore action was not able to be taken on the articles. The vote on the ballot questions was invalid without a town meeting vote. THEN, the Board decided to narrow the scope of the projects to transportation improvements on Old South Road from Milestone Road to Amelia Drive, along Fairgrounds Road to Newtown Road, along Newtown Road; and, the proposed round-about at Fairgrounds Road and Old South Road. This became Article 11 of the 2019 Annual Town Meeting, for an appropriation of $5.2 million, subject to a ballot question for a debt exclusion at the April 9, 2019 Town Election. The article was approved by Town Meeting (Yes – 458; No – 161); however, it failed at the Election.
Q. Did Town Meeting vote to approve the Stop signs on Surfside Road at Bartlett Road?
A. Article 34, a citizen-sponsored article to appropriate funds to install the Stop signs, was approved (yes: 184; no: 157). Only the Select Board can approve traffic regulations, including the addition (or removal) of Stop signs. Following Town Meeting, and acting in good faith, the Board voted to install the Stop signs on a temporary basis. The signs will be evaluated at a public hearing on June 5, 2019 and the Board will determine whether to keep them installed.
Annual Town Election
Several of the capital appropriation articles approved at Town Meeting were contingent upon ballot votes. These items were on the April 9, 2019 Annual Town Election warrant – click here for the results. Incumbent Select Member Matt Fee was re-elected to the Board and Kristie Ferrantella replaced Jim Kelly who did not seek re-election. We re-welcome Matt, welcome Kristie and extend best wishes and thanks to Jim.
Incumbent Select Member Matt Fee and Newly elected Select Member Kristie Ferrantella at Swearing-In Ceremony.
The Board and the Finance Committee will have a joint meeting on May 13, 2019 at 4:00pm at the 4 Fairgrounds Road Public Safety Facility to review what went well, what did not, and what lessons we learned from the 2019 Annual Town Meeting experience. The public is welcome to attend this meeting.
In other Town Admin news:
Last month, we had a pre-season beach meeting with all applicable town departments (as well as reps from the Land Bank and Conservation Foundation) to review preparations for the coming beach season, confirm that any issues which arose at the post-season beach meeting have been/will be addressed, and to ensure that any activities that need to be coordinated between departments, are coordinated. Members of the public are welcome to use the Town’s “Beach Hotline” at 508-228-7261 to report issues concerning beaches. We should point out that sometimes beach issues occur at non-Town beaches and while the Town may sometimes be able to assist with these, they may need to be addressed by the property owner (often Land Bank or the Foundation). Nonetheless, we encourage use of this number and we can at least provide you with information.
We are preparing our annual Water Quality Initiatives Update for presentation to the Board. This year’s presentation of Town water quality projects, programs, plans and initiatives is scheduled for May 22.
We have a number of plans we are working on currently, including:
- Coastal Resiliency Plan
- Hazard Mitigation Plan
- Landfill Master Plan
- Parks & Recreation Master Plan
- Sewer Master Plan
- Strategic Plan
Some of these are completed plans and we are working to implement them; others need to be completed or updated.
A number of projects are underway, including:
- Harbormaster Building renovation – design (when design is complete, bids will be issued and construction will follow – stay tuned on this!)
- Town Pier renovations (going back out to bid shortly, anticipate work to begin immediately after Labor Day and be completed in time for the 2020 summer season)
- New Fire Station is nearly complete – we are planning an Open House for Saturday, June 15th – more on this soon!
- Parking Demand Management program – in a “nutshell”, the Select Board’s Strategic Plan calls for this and we are working toward implementation for the summer of 2020.
There are NUMEROUS roadway projects occurring this spring – we are providing routine updates at Board meetings and on-line as to where and when they are occurring. As predicted, there is a generous amount of local grumbling about these projects – unfortunately for all of us, there is a short window of opportunity between “too many people here” and “too cold” in order for the necessary work to be done. We apologize and sympathize (we have to drive these roads too, we get caught up in unexpected detours too) and ask respectfully for your patience.
Upcoming Board agenda items that we are preparing for in May and June (dates not quite firmed up yet):
- Solid Waste Stream Disposal/Hauler Concerns – May 8
- Nantucket Select Board will be hosting the Cape Cod & Islands Selectmen’s Association monthly meeting on May 10
- Senior Center Work Group update – May TBD
- Status report on Downtown Sidewalk Improvement Project historic preservation process/guidelines – May 22
- Annual Committee appointments – June 19 (You have time to apply until May 16!)
Nantucket at the State House
From left to right: Town of Nantucket Natural Resources Director Jeff Carlson, Senator Cyr, Nantucket residents Tobias Glidden, Ray DeCosta, Bob DeCosta, Pete Kaizer.
On Tuesday, April 23, Natural Resources Director Jeff Carlson attended a Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture hearing to provide comments in support of House Bill 777, sponsored by Rep. Fernandes, and Senate bill 445, sponsored by Senator Cyr. This bill is aimed at restricting certain mobile fishing gear types out to three miles off of the coast of Nantucket. Over 90% of the Commonwealth has the same restriction. Mr. Carlson spoke on the importance of protecting the benthic environment (sea floor) and water quality as these areas are significant for foraging and breeding animals during the late-spring/early-fall.
Coastal Resilience Efforts
On April 25th, the Town of Nantucket received notification that we have been designated as a Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Community for the completion of the Community Resilience Building process as recommended by the State’s Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). This process started in July 2018, with a State MVP Planning Grant of $22,000 to complete a town-wide vulnerability assessment and develop an action-oriented resiliency plan using the MVP framework (adapted from work done by the Nature Conservancy).
In January 2019 Nantucket hosted a MVP Workshop with a group of more than 50 stakeholders from across the community, businesses and Town departments. It was a full day workshop and the information was assembled in a draft report. A public listening session was held on March 28th for expanded review and input of the draft workshop report by the community. A few items were clarified and expanded based on that listening session. The final report was submitted to the State for approval after the listening session. HERE you can find the final report.
Nantucket is now eligible to receive State MVP Action Grants to address the priority needs identified in the workshop report. Alongside this document, the Town recently completed its update to the FEMA-based Hazard Mitigation Plan and has a priority list of recommended actions or projects. Many of the Hazard Mitigation Plan activities/projects are congruent with actions identified in the MVP report. Town departments are working together to coordinate projects, and a tracking system is being developed to provide visibility into the identified actions/projects and the current and future grant opportunities, both at the state and federal level. The 2019 Hazard Mitigation Plan lists 55 recommended actions/ projects for the Town and at the last review, 20% are underway or complete.
The MVP designation needs to be renewed or updated annually, including the submission of a status report to the State. The MVP designation provides improved standing when seeking State grants, including MVP Action Grants, Coastal Resilience Grants, Planning Assistance Grants, Pollution Remediation Grants, and others.