Letters To The Editor: May 23, 2024

by Cape Cod Chronicle Readers

Better Choice For Housing


So revealing to see your Eldredge Garage front page photo last week. Overflow parking spaces for three months!

However, the highest and best use of this already cleared parcel is affordable housing. Resident workers could walk to the Mayflower and Chatham Cookware, for example. No limits on high density units, touted by the affordable housing trust to entice developers, would be perfectly in keeping with that neighborhood’s many, many rooms.

The downtown merchants and others who are vocal should bear the significant burden of what most agree is a housing crisis in this town. And certainly before clear cutting South Chatham woods to assuage everyone’s guilt.

David J. Farrell, Jr.

South Chatham

Public Should Have A Say


I was disappointed to read in the May 10 Mainsheet that the review committee appointed to evaluate developers’ affordable housing proposals for 1533 Main St. and Meetinghouse Road are the 10 people of the affordable housing trust board and the select board. That gives the seven-member trust board a 7-3 advantage over the select board, and we all know what the trust board has in mind for those two properties: not less than 60 mostly one-bedroom rental only apartments on each with a minimum density of 20 units per acre and on the cheap. The town deserves a more fair and impartial review and evaluation of developer proposals.

There will be an opportunity for citizens to express their views on the proposals because once the evaluation is completed on June 5, the proposals will no longer be secret, and according to the Mainsheet, will move to open public discussions. If you want to let the select board and trust board know your views on the proposals, whether pro or con, look for the proposals and committee evaluations to be made public on June 5 or 6.

As the town’s chief procurement officer, the town manager will review the evaluations and proposals, including pricing, and on June 11 will make her recommendation which proposals should be accepted for each property to a joint public meeting of the select and trust boards. The boards will make the final selections. There is no assurance that public comment will be heard at the June 11 meeting so make your views known early and before that meeting.

George Myers

Venice, Fla.

Who Is Running Chatham?


By town meeting rejecting the transfer station, waterfront bond, a citizen’s petition and airport articles, you’d think the message was sent that voters are fed up with lack of transparency and insufficient information about future spending.

Instead, we learned from the town manager in The Chronicle that since the ballot questions passed, “the select board may call a special town meeting to bring the transfer station and waterfront bond back before voters,” the loophole used with the COA last year. If pursued, it’s another flagrant attempt to circumvent the will of the people, an utter disregard for voters, and lack of respect for town meeting, which soundly rejected the articles.

Instead, Mike Schell is now chair of both the select board and affordable housing trust. If that isn’t a conflict I don’t know what is, especially since two SB members voting for him for chair are also AH trustees. Rather than abstain as Mr. Nicastro did (also nominated), Mr. Schell voted for himself.

Instead, we’re asked to forget townwide priorities, with potential future spending in the hundreds of millions for drinking water, sewer, major school repairs, COA and affordable housing, with consequent increased density, impact on infrastructure, and increased property assessments resulting in huge tax increases.

As for “ transparency” and “inclusion,” who works for who?

1. The public isn’t permitted to ask questions/comment during agenda items without permission of the new chair.

2. With last minute rules changed despite assurances for over two years, we won’t see, or have any say, before affordable housing designs are chosen-behind closed doors in executive session.

3. Substantive wording changes in select board minutes now occur before they’re approved (or seen in draft by the public), changing what some select board members “actually said” to what they “actually meant.”

4. The names of select board members are no longer identified in the minutes with attribution, and therefore individually left unaccountable or responsible for statements/assurances made to the public, making the select board comments meaningless — more unacceptable when minutes are the only legal record.

The future of Chatham is officially firmly in the hands of seven appointed — not elected — individuals who are pretty much running Chatham, with the SB majority of three backing them, whose sole mission is affordable housing, and who have repeatedly shown overt public contempt and disregard for anyone who questions any of their

decisions as obstacles to ignore or get around. Who is left representing us?

Select board and appointed committee members come and go. It’s residents and taxpayers who will live with the consequences of decisions by the “seven,” paying the price in countless ways “in perpetuity.”

Elaine Gibbs


Around And Around We Go


Thank you, Bill Amaru, for your writeup about the ridiculous traffic circle in South Orleans. I could not have said it better!

Pamela Ritchie

South Orleans

Nature Was Beneficiary Of Petitions


The defeat of pesticide and fertilizer home-rule petitions at the May 6 Harwich Town meeting recalls Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” published in 1962, her advocacy for sensitive environmental care of nature and people opposed to agro-chemical companies. Monsanto reacted with a scare campaign threatening with the consequences of not drenching our lands and forests with synthetic chemicals. Carson’s professional integrity was attacked. However, the upshot of the controversy was the banning of DDT in the United States.

The environmental justice movement was spawned by “Silent Spring.” Its impetus is love and care for the intrinsic value of nature, rather than using nature only as a resource for human betterment/enjoyment.

The main objection to the petitions was that they were not vetted/approved by town committees. However, this issue did not come up at the 2023 town meeting with similar/same petitions. Also, the petitioner’s request for audiences before two town departments was denied. But most obvious is that these are home-rule petitions, which need approval by state legislators before any formalizing of the bylaw through vetting can happen.

Other objections were that health concerns associated with synthetic chemical application are “assertions.” A Google search will convince otherwise. Another objection was that synthetic chemicals need state “experts” to be applied safely — of course this is so with the use of dangerous chemicals. But the petitions are asking that we learn about and work with alternative methods that are not chemically dangerous, but are sensitive and caring of eco-systems in nature and in ourselves.

Rebecca R. Burrill


Columnist Focuses On What’s Important


The Chronicle is lucky to have added Bill Amaru to its list of regular contributors. His column, Orleans Now and Then, offers a good and important perspective on where our town is heading and from where we come. His most recent commentary on the controversial new concrete-clad South Orleans roundabout perfectly summed up how I and many others feel. In it he mentions how "more and bigger have changed the town of Orleans, not for the better." This is unfortunately very true, especially with the current trend in building oversized houses with excessive pools, lighting and landscaping. Mr. Amaru remembers what attracts most of us to this fragile and beautiful land. Clean beaches, bays, estuaries and ponds to fish and to swim, dark skies to stargaze, and an overall quiet and calm place to enjoy the natural world which we are lucky to be surrounded by.

Unfortunately all of these things are being threatened by the current trends and the finished product of the new rotary is just one small example of this.

I am grateful to The Chronicle for bringing us the voice of wise elders like Mr. Amaru. I look forward to reading his columns in the future and would like to think that his words will help to remind others of what is important.

Donald MacKenzie


Lauds Chatham COA Staff


I just wanted to thank Leah LaCross and Anna Milan for all the wonderful work they do at the Chatham Council on Aging. In my over 20 years living here, I have never seen a staff do so much for the people of Chatham. They deserve to have a better facility. I pray they get one soon.

Ruth Lund


Map Didn’t Need Replacing


Article 40 looked innocuous, but was the thin edge of a wedge, which fortunately was overwhelmingly defeated at town meeting. At risk of pedanticism, I present the argument, which disproves the much repeated deceptive explanation for Article 40 that the 1958 visual approach surface was no longer current and had been wider for many years. I have found no evidence for this; in fact the contrary. The facts on the ground literally specify an existing visual runway according to FAA standards AC 150/5300-13B:

The present runway markings are “basic.”

The approaches posted by the FAA are “circling,” and § specifies “circling-only approaches fall under the visual visibility category.”

The existing clearance along the runway is 250 feet wide and not 400 feet.

The inner edge of the approach surface is 250 feet, which is the same width as the clearance along the runway.

The airport is not approved for straight-in.

The runway is only 3000 feet long, but no waiver for less than 3200 feet has been approved.

The airport management plan update (AMPU) specifies the existing approach surface as visual.

The airport layout plan shows the existing approach surface as visual.

The existing runway design code specifies a visual approach with visibility more than one mile by day and more than 600 feet to the runway.

Pilots have almost certainly been breaking the rules, but that doesn’t justify changing the rules. The airport commission has been advocating poor visibility landings with visibility less than one mile, and Article 40 would have enabled this. However, the FAA advisories regard such landings as much more dangerous for people on the ground than visual landings and defines much larger areas called RPZs at the ends of the runway. These could include 100 more homes than the present 20, although the FAA insists these areas should be kept empty of people, in case planes undershoot or overshoot.

Michael Tompsett