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DCC Minutes 08-12-2009

Dukes County Commission Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, August 12, 2009

5 p.m.
County Administration Building

Call to Order
Chairman Lenny Jason called the County Commissioner’s meeting to order at 5:10 p.m. Commissioners Tristan Israel, Les Leland, Melinda Loberg, Carlene Gatting and Tom Hallahan were present.  

Also in attendance were County Manager Russell Smith, Executive Assistant Martina Thornton, County Treasurer Noreen Mavro-Flanders, Jo-Anne Taylor from MV Commission, Bred Stearns from the Wampanoag Tribe, Burton Hamner of Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Co., LLC and Thomas Mayhew of MVTV.

Les/Tristan moved to approve the minutes of July 22, 2009. So Voted. All in favor.

West Basin Road, Aquinnah - Bred Stearns
County owns Lobsterville Road in Aquinnah. He would like the county commissioners to review approval of plans for projects for the installation of catch basins that were submitted to Aquinnah Conservation Commission. He would like to suggest for the County to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding between the Wampanoag Tribe and the County to get the project done.
Tristan/Les moved to approve the catch basins projects on the West Basin Road, Aquinnah as presented. Discussion: Carlene asked if the project is the same as what we already approved on another road. Bred said that it is similar as the one county commissioners approved for the Old South Road but this one is specific to protect the cranberry boxes. They should be able to capture most of the sediment. West Basin Road is a state road and he will have to get permission from the State also. Lenny asked what is the maintenance schedule and who will do it. Bred said that there is a maintenance contract to clean the catch basins once annually. So voted. All in favor.

Les/Carlene moved for the County Manager to enter into Memorandum of Understanding with the Wampanoag Tribe regarding any future projects on county roads in the Town of Aquinnah. So voted. All in favor.

Ocean Management Plan - Jo-Anne Taylor
Jo-Anne is on of the governor’s appointee representing the MV Commission to the Ocean Management Plan Advisory Board. Ocean Act is already in force for a year. It has provision for an ocean management plan. We now have a draft of the Ocean Management Plan, which would open up the ocean sanctuaries for development. The draft Plan was submitted to the legislator in June and should be adopted by the end of the year.

Jo-Anne showed the commissioners studies done to identify the special sensitive and unique areas. If all these areas were excluded there would be no areas left for wind and other potential renewable energy projects. Dukes County includes two areas that were identified as areas that would be good for commercial offshore wind projects, about 40 square miles (2% off state waters). There is also a suggestion to federal agencies to open up the adjacent area for commercial activity development. There might be a talk of expanding these two areas, as the appetite for these offshore wind projects is big. It is estimated for the two state areas to support 166 - 3.5megawatt turbines. Commercial wind cannot go to other areas, but community wind (up to 10 turbines per community) could go in the mixed-use areas. Up to 10 turbines could be allocated for Martha’s Vineyard and Elizabeth’s Islands, 10 for Nantucket etc. There are already cables between Cuttyhunk and New Bedford and there is room for more cables. There are special maps for special species. If you are interested in sand gravel mining you will have to look at the eel grass map to make sure you do not go to the mixed use areas that would be protected for that purpose. The commercial fishermen of Martha’s Vineyard pointed out that the state does not have complete data and they actually provided additional data. Not all data were digitized yet. The island is lacking bird data also. Jo-Anne would like to see the commenting on the draft of the Ocean Management Plan to be done as all-island comments. She feels that there will be a strong opposition at the legislator to keep it only to 2% of commercial wind areas. There will be four public hearings – in Boston, Gloucester, New Bedford, Barnstable. The Barnstable hearing is on September 16th same day as our All-island Selectmen’s meeting in Tisbury Senior Center. Jo-Ann is working on setting up a public hearing on the island either on September 21st or 23rd. The comments period on the Draft closes on November 16th and the legislator needs to make the decision by December 31st. After that the development will be available. The Draft Ocean Management Plan is available on-line for anyone who is interested in more details. Carlene asked if there are now information about the fish, birds and migratory patterns around No Man’s land and Gay Head as the MV Commission was concerned that the information is not accurate and missing. Jo-Anne said that they only have data from the Christmas bird count and the island birders would have to mobilize and provide the missing data. Lenny said that Nomans Land is controlled by the Secretary of Interior and it is a bird sanctuary and why is the National Sea Shore exempt but No Man’s seems to be ok. Melinda asked if it was the Audubon providing the birding information. Jo-Anne said it was the Bird Observer group who made the information available. Carlene asked if there is discussion how would the energy generated by MV be allocated. Jo-Anne said that the community in whose waters the project is located could benefit from it (Aquinnah, Chilmark etc.). She said the community wind could also go to the commercial areas. She was questioning if we would want the cables to go to the island shore and have big towers go across the island. We are on the grid and we could benefit from it through the grid even if the cables go to New Bedford where they already have the infrastructure. Tom said he is surprised that only 2% of the state water were identified as available for renewable energy and asked if this plan is just a draft subject to amendments or if it is a final proposal. Jo-Anne said that she expects lots of comments that would ask for additional areas to be identified. There are areas that are not economically viable right now but will be in the future as the technologies develop. Tristan asked how would the 10 community turbines for the region be allocated among the towns, what are the criteria. Jo-Anne said that the community projects would be identified by MV Commission and could be in the multiuse areas also. There are no criteria on how to allocate it among the towns. Tristan asked what is the impact in the two commercial areas as far as fishing. Jo-Anne said there might be some lobster pots located in those areas and if the projects go forward the users of these areas would be compensated. Melinda asked what permit process would the projects have to go through. Jo-Ann said that the permitting would be done by existing state agencies and the lengthy process should be avoided since the projects would be proposed in areas that are identified as suitable for such projects. Russell asked if the tax incentives from federal government are major key for the projects to be viable or if the projects are viable even without the tax incentives. Jo-Anne said that Cape Wind wanted to build in Buzzards Bay, but they could not because of the roseate terns. For profit developers might also take advantage of the carbon credits that they could use somewhere else. Russell said that it sounded like the best way would be for the Dukes County to partner with a private developer, who could benefit from those incentives, if it was truly community projects the public entity could not benefit from the tax credits. Lenny asked how do we get a public hearing in Dukes County, as we are the most effected area. Jo-Anne said that the hearing scheduled for the island is not the same formal hearing and will not have the same media coverage as the other 4 hearings. Lenny asked who shall the selectmen write to request a formal hearing on the island. Tom added that the proposed areas are right next to Cuttyhunk and he would like them to be part of the process also. Jo-Anne said that the Cuttyhunkers intend to come to the New Bedford hearing. All the county commissioners agreed that they would like to request a formal public hearing on the island with same formalities as the other 4 hearings. Tristan asked where the Cape Wind fits into this plan. Jo-Anne said that Cape Wind is in federal waters. Tristan said that a certain percentage of the money that will go to the state should go to the local communities for mitigation. Jo-Anne said that there is a mitigation fund that would be set up as part of the Ocean Management Plan, which would compensate individual fishermen who fish in these areas for their loss. Tristan said that there should be another benefit to the whole community other then just the individual mitigation. Jo-Anne said that there must be a direct economic benefit to the community in which the project is located. Lenny asked if Jo-Ann would be available to do the presentation in front of the all island selectmen. Tristan said that the date would be September 16th. Jo-Ann said that it is the same date as the Barnstable public hearing, which starts at 7pm. Lenny asked if Edgartown’s tidal project would be allowed in the area they propose. Jo-Anne said yes. Tristan asked to send a letter asking for a formal hearing on the island. Jo-Anne said that the hearing would be Monday September 21st or Wednesday September 23rd about 6.30pm at the Katherine Cornell Theater.
Melinda asked if vistas and historic areas and the esthetic impact are being addressed in the plan. Jo-Anne said that whenever she brought up she was told that it is not part of the top 15 criteria to assess the projects.

Vote for your favorite animal shelter - report
Our shelter ended up being 16th out of 360 shelters in the Commonwealth, which is a very good result. Thank you to all who voted for the shelter.

Update on sheriff’s bill - Tom Hallahan
Governor signed the bill last Thursday. It will take effect on January 1st 2010. Noreen said that some things take effect immediately and some on other dates. It has a big effect on the 2010 budget. FY2009 is over. We projected $1,916,921; we brought in $2,022,373, which is $105,000 over what anticipated. Of that $75,000 was a special payment from the Cape & Islands license plates, which still leaves $25,000 over budget! We spent $1,888,254, which leaves a surplus revenue over expenses of $134,000 and after we take the $75,000 from license plates it is still $54,000, which means that the departments did not spend as much as anticipated. This will increase the unreserved fund balance. The budget the commissioners approved last time did change due to the Sheriff’s bill. We expected turnover of Sheriff’s Dept to the state on October 1, but now it changed to January 1st, 2010. The sheriff’s retirees’ health insurance is about $100K a year. We put $25,000 in the line for sheriff’s retirees’ health insurance and we had about $24,000 surplus. If we had to pay another $25,000 it would put our budget out of balance. After discussions with the Sheriff who believes that the state did put money aside to cover the retirees’ health insurance, they decided that Noreen would bill the Sheriff for each quarter and Sheriff would make the case to the state that it is Sheriff’s department’s expense and submit it to the state for payment. Noreen would like to present the situation to the Advisory Board tomorrow. She wanted to know what direction would the county commissioners like to take. Either put another $25K to the budget as expense and have the budget unbalanced or leave it in the unreserved fund and in case the Sheriff is unsuccessful in getting it paid by the state we will take it from there. Starting next year we are totally home ruled. There will be no County Government Finance Review Board under A&F starting January 1st. The local County Advisory Board will approve the transfers in the budget next year to cover the expense if needed.
Carlene/Tristan moved to transfer the $25K from the budget line and have balanced budget. Discussion: Russell asked if that is for all sheriff’s employees insurance as there is a 4-month period before they could switch to the state insurance company. Noreen said that it is only for sheriff’s retirees. We could take it from the maintenance of effort but we are not sure at this point how much of it will fund sheriff’s operation. We also do not know if the maintenance of effort would be at the FY09 or FY10 level (with 2.5% increase). So voted. All in favor.

Noreen reminded the county commissioners that the County Advisory Board meets tomorrow at 3pm at the County Administration Building.

Courthouse – update
Russell said that we would be putting the trim on next week.

Old business
Tristan asked if the commissioners would agree for the Town of Tisbury to grade the parking lot at the Little Owen Way as the parking lot is owned by the County and it needs fixing. The commissioners agreed.

Agricultural Fair
There will be a county tent there again and the county commissioners are encouraged to spend time there.

New business

Animal Shelter
The County Commissioners are invited to a fundraising garden party on Friday August 14th 5-7pm at the Coyne’s property of Music Street in West Tisbury as honored guests. Park at the Old Ag Hall.

Renewable wind projects - Burton Hammer
He is a summer resident of Chilmark. He works in Seattle and works in the State of Washington on developing ocean renewable energy projects. He would like to work with the towns and community and he feels that the county could be the lead in developing a large-scale renewable energy projects through a public-private partnership. The community could be a profit shareholder of such project. Tristan suggested that Mr. Hamner talk to Russell and maybe arrange for another meeting. Lenny asked if he did a presentation to any other community. Burton said no, but he was involved with the Edgartown tidal project and Kitt Johnson. Melinda commented that we just joined the Cape & Vineyard Electric Co-operative. Tristan said that Tisbury joined also but with the understanding that they could do their own projects as well if they choose. Lenny asked if everyone would be ok to change the meeting from the 26th to the 19th of August to have presentation done by Mr. Hamner. Everyone agreed to meet on Wednesday August 19th at 5pm.

Tristan/Melinda moved to adjourn the meeting at 6.48pm. All in favor.

Respectfully Submitted by:

JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts

The County of Dukes County PO Box 190, Edgartown, MA 02539
Phone: 508.696.3840    Fax: 508.696.3841
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