Letters To The Editor: Feb. 2, 2023
New Festival Officers
The Harwich Cranberry Festival Inc. is a non-profit, all-volunteer group that organizes and produces the annual July and August arts and crafts fairs at Brooks Park, Beach Day each September for the children, musical concerts throughout the year, and the hugely popular Cranberry Festival and Cran-Jam in September at the community center. Proceeds from the vendors and some donations allow us to bring joy to the community, enhance educational activity to school kids, offer scholarships to graduating seniors at Monomoy Regional High School and the Cape Tech. We also donate to several worthy organizations in the community.
Years ago the fairs were produced by a large production company with paid employees. When they left, Ed and Shannon McManus picked up the pieces and put the show together again. It has taken many years to get it to the show it is today. Ed McManus has presided over the HCF committee for 19 years along with his wife Shannon who served as secretary up until several years ago. They reached out to JoAnne Clancy who has served as the treasurer and show director for nearly 15 years. With her hard work and dedication, the fairs have grown from 20 vendors to over 150.
This year brings new officers as Ed and JoAnne take a well deserved break. Both are still actively involved in the committee. It is with great appreciation and gratitude that we recognize the effort and dedication from Ed, Shannon, and JoAnne, and we wish the new officers the best of luck.
New officers are president, Fred Munday; vice president and show director, Kathy Kirch; secretary, Lynn Freer; treasurer, Mark Francis; music director, Bob Weiser.
Should you wish to join our active group, our meetings are held on the Fourth Wednesday of the month at the community center.
Time For COA Vote
It’s time to vote post haste to approve and build the new council on again at 1610 Main St., West Chatham. The choice is a no-brainer.
The convenient location and beautiful preliminary plans are clearly superior to all other proposals. They provide an impressive safe anchor for the rejuvenated West Chatham corridor. The site borders conservation land, the bike trail, and nature paths. And basic architectural plans are already done.
On top of that, property owner, Bill Marsh, is generously reaffirming his willingness to donate the land!
Folks, it doesn’t get much better than this. Let’s stop the foot dragging and move full speed ahead.
I encourage everyone to actively support the excellent previously proposed West Chatham COA location, as well as the preliminary architectural plans.
J. Denis Glover
Pond Not Such A Big Deal
I read with interest in the Jan. 19 edition the guest editorial written about the pond in Commerce Park. For four years I lived a little over 100 feet away from the pond, and for about a decade I worked in various fish shanties in the park. For years, Commerce Park has had a reputation as sort of the Wild West, and there is a notable streak of independence that exists there, so when the pond began to develop, nobody on the inside seemed to be overtly bothered by it. I used to have a photo of an unlucky driver who drowned his BMW in the pond and the caption read, "BMW doesn't make a boat." The "dangerous situation" described by the writer was neither of those things until a bad judgment call led someone to drive a car through standing water of questionable depth. More often than not, it appeared that the folks who tempted fate didn't have sense enough to take the road in on the north side or more simply turn around.
The writer says that the sign that states "water may be deep" is unserious. It's more signage than existed when I lived there. A simple survey of the surface area of the water and the pitch of the road ought to give you an idea of the depth, unless you want to break out the skiff and sounding lead to get a more accurate figure.
The assertion that any local kids would attempt playing in the pond was ridiculous. To me, Commerce Park always seemed like the industrial equivalent of a bar room (that's not derogatory; I was a resident) and we really didn't see kids hanging out in there, swimming, skating or otherwise.
As was stated in the editorial, Commerce Park is private and as such little can be done to force its owners to do anything simply because of an inconvenience to others, though it may behoove the park owners to raise a sign at the entrance advising all to pass at their own risk.
Further down the issue, Stu Smith was quoted referencing the flooding down on Little Beach. He said, "don't drive through standing water, fresh or salt." Listen to the Harbormaster.
Time To Address 'Lake'
Please join others to strongly encourage the owners of Commerce Park to finally address the longstanding issue of the menacing “lake” as stated in the Jan. 18 article “Work Together to Fix Commerce Park 'Lake.'”
The “lake” has existed for over 10 years and has been a well-established threat to vehicles, people and animals. The small and ineffective sign isn’t enough to warn drivers to turn around and wouldn’t address the root of the issue. The main problem is the potential environmental hazard; as stated in the article, the water is filled with “fish scales, blood and guts, gasoline, oil, battery fluid and other noxious material.” There are private properties on this street and the likelihood of children, pets, and other animals being injured by entering the water is a real and viable danger.
Even though the town of Chatham doesn’t have complete jurisdiction in this area, the town has strict rules and regulations and is environmentally conscientious.
Towns have an obligation to protect its residents and visitors. It will be in the best interest of the community for our town’s leadership to work with Commerce Park owners to permanently eliminate the “lake“ by restoring proper drainage and road conditions.
A Question For HAC
As most residents of Cape Cod know, the housing crisis here is severe. As a resident who has been personally impacted by the housing crisis, I have thought about what could be done to improve housing in the area. One of the biggest problems is that so many homes went from being residences to being businesses (short-term rentals). The short-term rental issue has to be addressed to start fixing the housing crisis. One way to rein in short-term rentals would be to create residential-only zones where STRs cannot operate. STRs could still operate in certain areas, but not in residential-only zones (neighborhoods).
I have heard HAC propose zoning changes, but only to increase density, not to create areas where STRs could not operate. I found that to be curious, seeing as HAC is supposed to help the residents who are impacted by the housing crisis. Why would HAC not support creating residential-only zones? I posed this question to HAC CEO Alisa Magnotta, who is also the co-chair of Governor Maura Healey’s Affordable Abundant Housing Committee.
Her response was that “…restricting short-term rentals needs more research to understand what are the intended and unintended consequences of restricting. For example right now, Orleans taxpayers are counting on a certain number of short-term rentals to pay for their sewer. And then there is the reality that homes that can be rented short-term automatically have a higher value than ones that are not able to be rented. So restricting in one area and not another means we are picking winners and losers.”
Let’s be clear, there are winners and losers right now. The winners are those who were able to buy up all the property and the people who are losing are the workers who can’t even find a reasonably priced rental. And why did Magnotta pick Orleans? Because that is where she owns property (stated on HAC profile and confirmed by the Barnstable Registry of Deeds). Someone who is in a position to make housing policy won’t advocate for policies that would improve housing because it is against her interest? Talk about the fox guarding the hen house!
Creating zoning regulations to limit short-term rentals would have an impact. Owners of homes that are being operated as STRs in those areas would either convert the property to a year-round rental, sell the property because it could no longer be operated as a cash-cow, or would keep the property as a second-home (I think this would be the exception, not the rule, as most STRs are not small-time operations).
Questions Tree Cutting Plan
The Chatham Airport Commission has contacted landowners about trees it says must be pruned or removed. Landowners have been given “a choice” to remove the trees themselves under the 1997 bylaw (§ 100-4) or have an “avigation easement” filed against their property so the commission may remove trees. They have been told that an “avigation easement” would give the commission the power to cut trees, but not warned of the other consequences of having such an easement recorded against their property.
What landowners were not told, however, is that c. 90, § 40B of the state law provides that “[N]o such regulation shall require the removal or lowering…of any structure or tree not conforming to the regulations when adopted or amended, or otherwise interfere with the continuance of any such non-conforming structure or tree.”
In other words, trees that had already grown into airport approaches before 1997 cannot be required to be removed or pruned.
Horticulturalists say that trees, once they reach maximum height, do not grow taller, while they may grow more broadly. No one conducted an audit in 1997 to determine which trees had already grown into airport approaches. Most, if not all, of the mature trees the commission now seeks to cut are likely protected under c. 90, § 40B. How can the commission prove otherwise?
Moreover, the representation that the commission has the power to file “avigation easements” on properties is false. Imposition of “avigation easements” on the land records for the benefit of an already established airport under law requires a process of eminent domain in which both the select board and the voters — but not the airport commission — must participate.
The airport commission should stop making unlawful threats to landowners which irresponsibly expose the town to liability.