Tisbury voters approved several zoning changes at a special town meeting Tuesday evening and dispatched with 14 of 35 articles on the annual town meeting warrant before the meeting was recessed just after 10 p.m.
The annual town meeting continues at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Tisbury School gymnasium.
With moderator Deborah Medders presiding, 183 voters came out Tuesday for annual and special town meetings. The fiscal year 2015 operating budget has not yet been voted on; Tisbury is facing a budget deficit of $1.1. million for the next fiscal year. A general override question appears on the ballot.
Proposed changes to various zoning bylaws dominated the articles on the special warrant. Voters approved two bylaw amendments creating a definition and a zoning protocol for any registered medical marijuana dispensaries in town. As proposed by the town planning board, dispensaries can only be established in the B-2 zoning district. Town counsel David Doneski said that without the bylaw the town would likely not be able to limit zoning at all for dispensaries.
A proposed amendment that would change the bylaws regulating “deep lots” —those large enough to contain up to two additional lots--was voted down in a standing vote, with 57 in favor and 68 against.
Voters spent some time discussing a proposed change to the town noise bylaw, which has not been modified since 1968. An amendment put forth at the meeting by the police department would impose a fine of $100 for the first noise violation—defined as being “plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet” from the source—between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Some voters took issue with the 50 feet limitation, saying it was an infringement on personal rights, but others cited the closeness of buildings in subdivisions.
Board of selectman chair Jeffrey Kristal said the amendment was a response to an inundation of noise complaints during the summer months. The earlier version of the bylaw allowed for a “fine not to exceed fifty dollars per offense.”
Proposed additional amendments to change the distance to 75 feet and to issue a warning for first offense were voted down. The original bylaw change ultimately passed via voice vote.
A Vineyard Boards of Health initiative to regulate fertilizer usage by establishing an Island-wide District of Critical Planning Concern passed unanimously with a smattering of applause. Tisbury board of health member Michael Loberg described the plan as “a vision of what it means to be sustainable on this Island.”
During the annual meeting, voters made quick work of several housekeeping items and approved a $125,000 borrowing article to fund a new payment system at the town park and ride lot.
Retiring town clerk Marion Mudge was recognized prior to the start of the meeting for her thirty years of service to Tisbury.
“Our town is blessed with employees who are cornerstones of our community,” selectman Tristan Israel said. “[Marion] always is pleasant, she is not afraid to tell people what she thinks…she is very fair.”
Ms. Mudge received a rousing standing ovation from the crowd, as well as a visit onstage from her four-year-old grandson, Jack Scarbrough of West Tisbury.