(January 31, 2022) The Planning Committee recommends that City Assembly voters take no action on several proposed changes to hot tub and swimming pool regulations.
A few civic articles by Anne Dewez would ban hot tubs in the city’s old historic and industrial districts; and in all zoning districts reduce their allowable area from 150 square feet to 64 square feet and limit their volume to 1,000 gallons or less.
Swimming pools are already banned in the old historical parts of the city.
Dewez said her original thought was to limit the size and volume of hot tubs in the old historic neighborhoods, but added the ban to her proposal after being alerted to it by groups including the Nantucket Historical Commission and the Nantucket Preservation Trust , that they would like to see a total ban.
“For me and my neighbors, the problem is not the view, but the noise. The laughter of the children, there is no fence in the world that could ensure it. It is a problem. It’s inconvenient for those of us who don’t want to hear laughter all day every week,” Main Street’s Jane Schnitzer said during the Planning Board’s more than four-hour review of proposed zone changes Monday night via Zoom.
Several board members said they didn’t have enough information to support the articles — particularly the ban — without more information, including the results of a survey of owners of old historic districts about restricting hot tubs in their neighborhoods.
“I just think it’s going too far to ban them. What’s wrong with a little, tiny pool the size of a throw rug in your family room?” asked Nat Lowell. “Today we have fire pits and outdoor cooking that is way more than a grill. A pool doesn’t make noise, people make noise, gatherings make noise. I just don’t see any connection. But we have to find a way to draw a line somewhere.”
A proposed article by former Planning Committee and Historic Districts Commissioner Linda Williams would eliminate minimum lot size and setback requirements for swimming pools in some small-lot residential areas outside of old historic districts. Should that fail, a second would reduce the minimum lot size for a pool in those counties from 7,500 to 6,000 square feet.
The owners, who were hardest hit by the regulations, which were approved by a small number of city assembly voters last year, were underinformed, Williams said. The majority of them are non-voting taxpayers who may not have been aware of the proposed changes, she said.
“When I was on the planning committee, we used to send out notifications about these kinds of major zoning changes. That wasn’t done. I want this to be repealed and for the planning committee to do a full survey of these counties.”
The board members disagreed.
“In my humble opinion, the property owners had every opportunity to hear about it. If you own a property here, you should be interested in these things. We have discussed this article many times. It had full board support. I don’t see why we should go back at this point,” said David Iverson.
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