Provincetown will continue remote access to meetings, even though many meetings are now being held in person. Go to provincetown-ma.gov and click on the meeting you want to watch for further instructions.
Thursday, July 15
- Bicycle Committee, remote, 2 p.m.
- Cultural Council, Town Hall, 5:30 p.m.
- Zoning Board of Appeals, Town Hall, 6 p.m.
Tuesday, July 20
- Conservation Commission, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, July 21
- Historic District Commission, Town Hall, 4 p.m.
Thursday, July 22
- Planning Board, 6 p.m.
Residential Tax Exemption
Several members of the Provincetown Part-Time Resident Taxpayers Association (PPRTA) told the select board on July 12 they do not want the residential tax exemption (RTE) increased from 25 percent to the maximum allowed by law, 35 percent.
Chair David Abramson said such a suggestion was not on the agenda.
Listed under townwide goals, however, the agenda contained the item “consider increasing the RTE,” though no percentage amount was named.
The select board never even got to talk about it, because the meeting went on too long. But during public statements, PPRTA members made their views clear.
Patricia Miller, president of PPRTA, spoke of the “division” created by the RTE “pitting neighbors against neighbors.”
“We just all want to be treated fairly,” said Miller. The RTE doesn’t distinguish between a year-round resident who “actually needs a tax break” and one who could afford to pay, she said. The RTE is, in fact, designed as a progressive taxation policy that benefits most the year-round property owners with the lowest-valued homes.
Truro, Wellfleet, and Provincetown have all adopted residential tax exemptions, but Eastham has not. At 35 percent, Provincetown would be offering the largest exemption, the one currently offered in Boston, Waltham, and Somerville, according to the state Div. of Local Services. Abramson said raising the RTE will be discussed in the future as a possible way to make living here more affordable for year-rounders.
Other nonresident taxpayers argued that part-timers already pay nearly 85 percent of residential property taxes, based on property value. As of 2019, only 28.6 percent of Provincetown’s homes were lived in year-round by homeowners, according to the assessor’s office. —Sophie Hills
Sal’s Keeps Beach Seats
Rejecting the advice of town counsel, the select board voted on July 12 to allow Sal’s Place to continue to seat people on the beach in front of 101 Commercial St.
Greg Connors, owner of 101 Commercial St., is suing the restaurant owners in Land Court. While the case is being decided, the judge issued an injunction prohibiting Sal’s owners, Siobhan Carew and daughter Michela Carew-Murphy, from putting tables behind Connors’s home.
Because the zoning board of appeals allowed the beach seating under a special license during the Covid-19 pandemic, the town is also subject to the injunction, said Amy Kwesell, town counsel from KP Law.
To comply with the judge’s order, Kwesell advised the select board to alter the license so seating is limited to the beach behind the restaurant only. This has been Kwesell’s advice all three times the matter has come up this summer.
“The ramifications are,” said Kwesell, “if we allow by license for seats to be in front of 101 Commercial there is a very good chance that action will be taken against the town. I am not going to predict what kind of action.”
In 2020, Building Commissioner Anne Howard advised the ZBA not to grant the beach seating in the first place because the restaurant “has not demonstrated a desire to follow the Covid-19 guidelines,” Howard wrote. “This has been made evident on several visits,” where Howard noted “non-masking, serving of alcohol to non-dining patrons, use of private property for queuing of patrons without property owners’ consent, reduction of social distancing of tables in the interior dining area.”
Still, the select board voted unanimously to delay altering the license until Nov. 1 or whenever the judge returns a decision in the lawsuit. Since this is only an injunction, not the resolution of the entire case, there is not clarity on who is right or wrong, said board member Louise Venden.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” she said. —K.C. Myers