Letters to the Editor, May 9

Letter to the Editor

ADUs Will Change Chatham 


A Chatham Town Meeting warrant article that requires a serious look is the planning board’s proposal to allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on all residential and business properties. The purpose appears to fit into the 365 committee’s laudable concerns about our demographics, with too few young people able to find jobs or housing. Sadly, this amendment to our zoning bylaw could bring radical change to Chatham with little or no likelihood that it will help those who need it. There are no affordable requirements. The new accessory dwelling units are available at market rates. Adjusted payments can meet the requirement for rentals on an annual basis. Occupancy requirements are unenforceable.

This article’s zoning amendment while allowing a second freestanding structure on a lot, does away with lot coverage and buildable upland requirements. Housing density will change the aesthetics of residential neighborhoods. The proposal even allows some second structures “by right,” without notice to abutters nor oversight by the zoning board of appeals.

Seniors seeking a way to stay in their homes with income from a rental unit or companionship of a live-in family member need to know there is a less damaging way for this to be accomplished. Accessory apartments within existing homes are already allowed. Present bylaw can be changed by eliminating affordable and deed requirements.

Chatham is not alone in the need to attract young workers and their families. It is a 21st century fact for small towns, cities and rural areas. What town meeting voters must consider is whether adopting this zoning bylaw, potentially damaging to the permanent appearance and character of our town, is going to solve a demographic problem that is fundamental, not just for Chatham, but across the nation.

Deborah Ecker



A Thoughtful Selectman Candidate


Please join me on Tuesday, May 21 in returning Selectman Michael MacAskill to the Harwich board. Michael has served the community well for the last four years as a committed board member and an active community participant. Selectman MacAskill comes to every board meeting armed with knowledge and prepared to ask difficult questions. He is truly committed to the best interest of all residents and taxpayers. During Michael's tenure, he served as chairman twice, dedicating countless hours to ensure the board vetted each agenda item thoroughly with public participation. Selectman MacAskill thoughtfully delves into each issue, budgetary item and policy, making decisions which are based on facts and research. His knowledge of municipal government and finance has grown through his service due to his commitment to continually educate himself. I personally appreciate his continued fiscal oversight and responsibility to the taxpayers in making financial decisions. Selectman MacAskill speaks his mind truthfully, even when his opinion may not be the most popular voice, but is also open to listening to everyone's viewpoint. A local Cape Cod businessman and representative of the demographic we are desperately trying to keep in our town, Michael understands the challenges we face in housing, economic development and thoughtfully planned growth.

Donna Kalinick



Supports Harwich ADU Bylaw


Housing for summer and year-round workers has been a growing challenge over the past couple of decades. Now we see employers going to such extremes as buying year-round housing for their employees. While some businesses can afford to do that, most cannot.

What does lack of housing mean for us who continue to live here? Prices of goods and services go higher. Traffic worsens when our year-round workforce lives over the bridge. And Cape businesses compete with off-Cape employers to fill job openings.

Yes, it’s all about housing. These are my reasons to vote in favor of the proposed accessory dwelling unit (ADU) bylaw at Harwich Town Meeting. 

Marietta Nilson

Harwich Center


Don't Ignore Plastic Problem


I am writing in support of the municipal plastic bottle ban. In Harwich, the ban will prohibit town purchase of plastic bottled beverages and the sale of beverages in plastic containers on town property. Only 9 percent of plastic bottles are recycled. Recycling the same bottle over and over again doesn’t help the problem. After being recycled for a while it will have to be thrown away. Thirty-five million plastic bottles are thrown away each year. Some of this plastic ends up in the ocean. Plastic takes a very long time to decompose, and since it takes so long to decompose marine animals and sea birds are dying because their bodies can’t digest it; it is just filling up their stomachs. Fish, turtles, and whales are eating plastic. We eat fish, we don't know if the fish have been eating plastic, do we? Most likely not. There are so many problems with plastic and plastic bottles. Plastics are hurting our environment. I am not old enough to vote yet but I would just like to let everyone know the problems we have now are going to affect my future and my kids’ future. I don't want my kids to grow up with a huge plastic problem. So, let's stop it now.

Ashley Anderson


The writer is a sixth grade student.


ADUs Won't Accomplish Goals


This is in response to Shareen Davis’ letter to the editor last week. There are so many flaws with the way this article is written it’s ridiculous. Everyone agrees there is a need for affordable housing. Everyone. What we don’t agree with is the push to get this to town meeting and approved without tackling some of the major issues contained in the current wording of the document. This may have been “thoroughly” vetted and gone through what she calls a “healthy” public process; however, nothing could be further from the truth. There are no provisions for affordability. These will go for market rate. While it sounds good, the town doesn’t have enforcement capability to require renters to make Chatham their “principal residence.” Renters could be from out of state as long as they rent it for a year, allowing extended family and friends to use it, defeating the intent to provide housing for the local workforce. With the present wording anyone can build; however, if they choose not to use it as an ADU they can just remove the stove and you have a rental property or guest house. Once again, unenforceable by the town.

With all the work and discussions that have been put into this document, why can’t these points be taken into consideration and fixed? Ms. Halpern and the planning board would do well to listen to the folks that have continually pointed these items out.

Is this what our town needs at this point in time when the developers are building these huge eyesores—and now they’ll have another market to capitalize upon? It’s time for the planning board to get this right and fix this wording. Please vote this down at town meeting so that these ADUs can be what the intended use is for—affordable housing for our workforce—and not just another developer’s dream.

Judy Patterson

West Chatham


Heed FinCom Warnings In Warrant


I would strongly encourage all citizens to read Chatham’s 2019 Town Meeting Warrant, with particular attention to The Report of the Finance Committee at the bottom of Page Two through Page 9.

The committee  makes several significant observations "regarding elements of the budget that cause us (fincom) some degree of concern. These matters include (i) ongoing concern about the scope and prospective cost of the proposed council on aging building project, (ii) the lack of inclusion of warrant-based spending in the capital improvement plan, (iii) a significant change in the town’s capital spending policy that seems to have been adopted without evident engagement by the board of selectmen, and (iv) a seemingly recurring and not insignificant challenge to the town’s free cash policy which has the effect of increasing the tax rate on taxpayers.”

There is a further detailed explanation of the fincom's reasoning for their observations  and concerns on pages 8 and 9 of the warrant.

The fincom states “…our allegiance is to the taxpayer.” As Chatham voters are asked to approve each of the 71 spending articles at town meeting, we should consider the warnings of fincom regarding the long-term financial impact to the town.

Elaine Gibbs



Newcomb Knows The Town


I met Cecil Newcomb 30-plus years ago when he was a proud parent bringing his daughter to my class at the Federated Church Nursery School. Sarah is now married, a mom, a head lifeguard at Nauset Beach, and a teacher. But she is among many who had to move off-Cape because they couldn’t afford to stay. As a 12th generation Cape Codder, Cecil says that a strong motivator for seeking a leadership role in Orleans is to be part of making housing more affordable for all of us. 
Cecil also believes that those who live on the Cape must steward the land, and waters that surround us and that we surround. As he said, “What we do now matters for future generations.” 
Interviewed by Nauset students for their Vietnam oral history project (YouTube.com) “Witness to War: Serving a Nation Project,” Cecil describes being a helicopter crew chief flying 500 missions before he was 21 (earning a Purple Heart and Bronze Star) and being sent home early, after the untimely deaths of his parents, to take responsibility for his eight siblings.
Cecil knows our history and is committed to our community. Whether protecting our water quality, supporting our schools, thinking creatively about housing all ages can afford, promoting traditional and new businesses, or considering how to spend our tax dollars wisely, He will combine his deep knowledge of the town with his concern for its future as he considers all issues. 

Gail Meyers Lavin



Citizens' Concerns Sherry's Focus


If you feel that  the town of Harwich is out of touch with the residents you can support change by voting for Tom Sherry. Active listening is Tom’s mantra. In choosing our selectmen, shouldn’t we give more weight to issues facing the town and how a candidate might respond ? I support Tom Sherry and hope you will too. Some of the issues we face are increasing demands of tax dollars, competing interests such as the pet cemetery, development of Hawksnest and other sensitive areas and sewering and related costs. Tom’s experience on the finance committee certainly will be helpful.

Tom’s wife, Dolores, is excited to support Tom in his bid for selectman and describes them as a couple who enjoy helping. There is clear authenticity to Mr. Sherry, coupled with reasonable down-to-earth thinking which may be in part from his work as an electrical instructor at Upper Cape Vocational Tech. Because of these traits, his keen desire to hear our ideas and to proceed with consensus, Tom Sherry brings a refreshing perspective. Mr. Sherry’s  focus on listening to citizens’ concerns makes Tom a great choice for Harwich.

Louis Urbano



Consequences Of ADU Bylaw


Letters appearing in The Chronicle suggest voting for Article 17, accessory dwelling units. Unfortunately, important facts remain unstated, many more than can be mentioned here.

The following quotations are from Chatham’s town counsel in a March 7 memorandum in which he states: 1) “Chatham can restrict the occupancy of an ADU just as it can restrict the occupancy of the dwelling to which the ADU is associated.  Even though it is difficult to enforce and not very practical…” 2) “If a tenant does not comply with the year-round residency requirement, the town cannot interfere with the private contract (lease) between the primary dwelling unit owner and the ADU occupant.” 3) If the property is sold to someone who for any reason no longer wants to maintain it as an ADU, he says, “…that does not prevent it from becoming a permitted short-term rental or guest house…” Typically that would require the removal of the stove. Town Counsel states this would be “somewhat difficult for the town to enforce, but the ability to enforce is present.” 4) “The bylaw does not currently address removal of ADUs, but as noted above, there may be other alternative uses for the living space within the home for subsequent buyers.”  5) The proposed ADU bylaw does not have any affordability requirement built in…”

Clearly, the article is without suitable requirements or enforcement. The unintended consequences are that ADUs could be rented to out-of-state tenants with no permanent ties to Chatham, and could result in more short-term rentals and guest houses, thus defeating the spirit and intent of the article. 

Gloria Freeman

North Chatham


Candidate Will Put In The Time


We support Cecil Newcomb for the Orleans Select Board. Cecil was a close neighbor and classmate from the time we were 7 years old, some 64 years ago. We believe that Cecil offers a perspective that would be a positive for the select board. Without being nostalgic, Cecil can recall what has made Orleans an attractive destination and place to live, while looking forward to protecting our future as best as we can. The water we drink and the waters that have supported our recreational boating and fishing industries, as well as the beaches, ponds and landings that have supported our important tourist industry, will all need looking after. Affordable open space is a concern of Cecil’s, and trying to provide affordable housing for both our seasonal and resident employees is a major concern. Cecil tries to look at all of the sides of an issue and make the best choice possible, including prioritizing how and why Orleans spends taxpayers money to keep the town healthy, vibrant and affordable. After having the opportunity to attend a presentation by Cecil at a casual campaign stop recently with the associated question and answer period, we are convinced that Cecil can put in the time and hard work necessary to represent the citizens of Orleans in a thorough and conscientious manner.

Fred and Kathy Perreault



Selectman With Commitment


We have been Chatham taxpayers for the past 32 years and have been full-time residents since 2012. Our family has enjoyed the ambiance of small-town Chatham, the Friday night band concerts, sailing at the Chatham Yacht Club, the town-sponsored tennis program and sunning at Harding’s Beach. This past year, we became very familiar with Peter Cocolis, who as a member of the board of selectmen has been a man of action. In our opinion Peter is a man willing to listen to opposing points of view and then take positive steps to address the issue.

Two examples that we have witnessed. First, when he was a chairman of the planning board, many requests came to the board that needed attention. However one issue that was not a specific request but rather a problem (that the planning board became aware of), was the need for “workforce affordable” housing. This need has been an issue that never seemed to get traction. However, Peter rallied other board members to hold public hearings and listening sessions which resulted in the board asking the town staff to draft an accessible dwelling unit bylaw. That amendment is Article 17 to be voted at this year’s town meeting.

Second, is Peter’s interest in addressing problems through his active participation on the Chatham 365 task force. We think that this task force is an important mechanism to gather input, identify problems, and provide potential solutions that face Chatham as the demographics of this town change. As many of you will agree, Peter doesn’t believe in reinventing the wheel but in learning from the experiences of other Cape Cod towns and try and adopt the “best practices” from those towns here in Chatham.

Kathie and Steve Curran

West Chatham


Task Force Grateful To Community


On behalf of the Chatham 365 task force, I write to express gratitude to and for our community.

The task force recently held two public forums in order to hear from the community about the issues of living in Chatham year-round. Attendance at both forums exceeded our expectations (given that one fell on the most beautiful Saturday we’ve had so far this year).  

We heard about the struggles and challenges to live here year-round.  And we heard many ideas and creative solutions to address these challenges. A very big thank you to all who participated!

The issues we are charged with addressing are incredibly complex. Yet the 365 task force recognizes that the talent, innovation and commitment needed to turn the tide is in the hands of the people who showed up to the public forums, who wrote responses and who are dedicated to taking action.

What is critical now is that folks continue showing up to be part of the solutions as we all move forward into a future that truly supports the beautiful spectrum of people and families who care about Chatham and call it home.

Thank you also for The Chronicle’s thoughtful and informed coverage. And thank you in advance to all who will remain engaged in making Chatham an even more thriving community.

Danielle Tolley


A Plea For Town Meeting


Chatham voters attending next week’s town meeting will face a mind-numbing 70 articles. Some are complex, others controversial and some are both. The warrant that arrived this week is 100 pages, not counting the 87-page appendix. Several copies bound together could serve as a mooring.

I have three requests on behalf of residents attending the meeting:

  1. To speakers presenting articles: please be clear, concise and brief. Your presentation sets the tone for the discussion that follows.

  2. To citizens commenting on articles: outline your thoughts in advance if possible. Like the speakers, be clear, concise and brief. If you lose your audience, you may lose the vote.

  3. To the moderator: please be pro-active in imposing time limits on comments. The League of Women Voters used to serve as timekeepers. On occasion, many of us wished their time limit sign could be replaced with something stronger, like an air horn. This is especially important for the complex and controversial articles.

If everyone can work together to manage the meeting in an efficient and effective manner, we voters and our posteriors will be grateful.

David Wilber


Being Part Of The Solution


When it comes to the Cape’s affordability, there’s always a chicken and the egg question about jobs and housing. At Chatham Works we are committed to hiring year-round talented and driven locals who want to continue to grow and thrive in place. But housing availability is a barrier to job growth. Competitive wages only go so far when there's no rental inventory. If we want jobs available for year-rounders, we must have rentals for talented and driven locals to grow and thrive in place.

On May 13 at Chatham Town Meeting, I’ll be voting in favor of Article 17. Making it easier for homeowners to be part of the solution and offer accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as a housing option to our year-round workers is the very least we can do, and the bylaw ensures we do so without negative consequences for neighborhoods or the environment.

Lindsay G. Bierwirth 



School Fundraiser Inspirational

A big thank you to the Monomoy Middle School students and faculty for their Empty Bowls, Full Hearts dinner. I had a wonderful time. Your care and kindness to those in need is inspirational.

Betsy Abreu

Opposes Chatham’s ADU Bylaw 

I oppose the proposed zoning bylaw amendment which would allow the creation of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and here’s why.
I found it troubling that Chatham’s town counsel wrote, in a March 7 email, “I do believe that the ADU bylaw, as drafted, achieves its intended objectives.” While it may achieve the intended objectives of some, I would suggest that he and other supporters of the proposed ADU amendment read Section 1 General Provisions of Chatham’s Protective Bylaw which clearly states that its purpose and intent “is to manage growth and development in the town so as to insure the appropriate use of land, encouraging those qualities which distinguish Chatham as a desirable community for year-round and seasonal residency, commerce, tourism and recreation including (among other things) prevention of overcrowding of land, undue concentration of population, and traffic congestion… preservation of the value of land and buildings…preservation for present and future inhabitants of Chatham of the natural, architectural and historic assets of the community.” 
After reading he proposed ADU bylaw, as drafted, I can only conclude that, if adopted, it will detrimentally undermine the purpose and intent of Chatham’s Protective Bylaw.

Sal N. Gionfriddo

Vote No On COA Plan

Hurry! Hurry! Rush! Rush! Quickly put up a COA building on the Middle Road site! Do it fast before we can look closely at what we are getting into. Even the architect admitted that this was a rush job and they had to quickly come up with a plan in time for the March 25 deadline. Let’s look at the facts. 
First of all many COA patrons wanted a two-story building. What we got is a one-story plan that doesn’t even have a basement. We were told at one of the meetings that an elevator would cost about $180,000. Big deal. That’s less than 4 percent of the total cost of the whole building. 
A basement could be used for storing medical equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs, etc. Another feature that was not given credence is to have a senior daycare area there. A real need for this exists in Chatham. We asked for this and were basically ignored. Now we send Chatham residents to Orleans or even Dennis for this type of care. This offering at the new COA site would truly help caregivers and their elderly loved ones. 
What is so special about this $6.35 million plan we have before us? Nothing—and that’s the point. What’s so special about it compared with what we have now? We better get it right or we are going to regret it for the next 50 years. 
There are other alternatives to the Middle Road land. The Eldredge Garage property is an ideal location for the COA. It’s going to be a parking lot anyway. The COA is only open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with weekends and holidays off. If we build it there we could have a gate guard there to make sure there is plenty of space for COA patrons with a cordoned off area. The rest of the parking lot could go for tourists. 
Let’s get our facts right. The land across from the sewage treatment plant is the wrong site. The building design is not what we want. For $6.35 million we want a spectacular COA that razzle-dazzles us.

I ask you to look carefully and closely at this plan and vote no on this article at Town Meeting. 

Terry Bassett
South Chatham


Orleans Owners Will Pay Plenty

In its latest mailing, Orleans Can urges support of Article 16 on the town warrant, the investment of $47.4 million for construction of a sewer collection system in the downtown area and a treatment and disposal facility. The mailing states: “Leaving little for the Orleans taxpayers to cover.” This statement is very misleading.
In fact, some downtown residents will pay up to $1,100 per year for the downtown sewer system when they do not contribute any measurable impairment to a waterbody. And similarly, a few businesses could pay $20,000 or more and do not contribute damage to the environment.
Those property owners outside of downtown only have a responsibility to contribute to the construction cost of the treatment and disposal facilities. For a typical Orleans home assessed at $750,000, the annual cost to the owner, according to currently available information, will be about $48 per year.
The average annual cost for a resident of Skaket Landing, Landings Edge and of 18 West Rd. on West Road, and Old Colony, Locust Hill and Bayberry Village on Old Colony Way will be close to $1,100 per year for their share of the sewer system cost. 
The groundwaters under Skaket Landing, Landings Edge and 18 West Rd. do not discharge into Town Cove or Inner Rock Harbor. Similarly, the commercial properties ABBA, the Jailhouse, the Beacon and businesses at Skaket Corners do not contribute nitrogen pollution to Town Cove or Inner Rock Harbor. Should the Jailhouse Restaurant pay more than $25,000 per year toward a sewer system when the discharge from its septic system does not contribute to the nitrogen in Town Cove or Inner Rock Harbor?
The allocation methodology for the sewer costs should be established and agreed to by all parties before residents vote on the large capital expenditure.

Paul R. Amman


Time For Bottle Ban


I feel compelled to answer two letters that have been in the local papers this week, against the municipal bottle ban.

Yes, this bottle ban is asking for a change and sometimes change is temporarily uncomfortable. This bottle ban has been a long time coming and I believe municipalities can and will rise to the occasion and make the changes necessary within the time given. Postponement often means putting off or doing nothing. It is a deceptive way of saying no thank you. Voting for the plastic beverage bottle ban means committing to reducing our plastic use in a timely fashion. We have had 50 years of continuously increasing our plastic use now is the time to start reducing our plastic use.

I find it interesting that single-use water bottles are used by those who believe our water is unsafe to drink while the plastics industry pollute our water supplies and the air we breathe. The plastic bottles litter and stain our beautiful wild places. Manufacturing and using plastics is one of the worst things we are doing to our environment. That means our water supplies, our air supply, and our food supply are being poisoned and tainted by those who want to be healthier by drinking bottled water.

This does not make sense to me.

Vote yes to ban the municipal sale and distribution of plastic beverage containers, for a cleaner environment now.

Suzanna Nickerson



Will Be Here In Spirit


I would like the citizens of Chatham to know that I will be on my way to Washington, D.C. to attend my son’s graduation from College on May 16. I will be able to stand out on election day early in the morning and then I will have to leave to travel to DC.

I just want the voters to know that my absence on election day is in no way is a reflection of my deep and abiding interest in the governance of this wonderful town.

I hope that everyone participates in town meeting and votes on election day.

I will truly be there in spirit on election day

Jeff Dykens


The writer is running unopposed for a three-year term on the Chatham Board of Selectmen in the May 16 town election.