News in Brief
Magistrate hands Alossos final DEP case victory
In the conclusion to a long-running case that began with the construction of a modest house in Oak Bluffs, an administrative magistrate eliminated the remaining penalties assessed against Joseph and Evelyn Alosso of Oak Bluffs.
The decision is contained in a 35-page final ruling issued June 12 by Division of Administrative Law Appeals administrative magistrate Mark L. Silverstein.
In an earlier decision issued in October 2007, Mr. Silverstein ruled that a decision by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to levy $19,685 in fines against the couple, in connection with the installation of a septic system for a new house, was not supported by the facts of the case.
That decision vacated $19,685 of $28,310 in civil administrative penalties. The language of the summary decision also cast doubt on the strength of the DEP's case going forward on the one issue where the facts remained in dispute.
In his June ruling Mr. Silverstein vacated the remaining $8,625 in penalties.
"I was exonerated of all charges," said Mr. Alosso, facilities manager for the Oak Bluffs and Edgartown wastewater plants. "It cost me a fortune, but that is beside the point."
Mr. Alosso said he is glad the five-year ordeal is over. He said from the beginning that state officials expected he would pay the fines and go away but it was an important fight. "It was expensive, but maybe in the future it will help somebody else out," he said.
The DEP fines arose in connection with Mr. Alosso's construction of a four-bedroom house in 2003, and against the backdrop of Oak Bluffs's rough and tumble brand of personal politics. From the beginning Mr. Alosso charged that the motivation for the fines was political.
The DEP launched an investigation into the septic system that the Alossos installed after receiving a complaint about the property. At the time, Mr. Alosso was a board of health member.
The crux of the issue was the state's assertion that a septic system for a four-bedroom house should not have been allowed on the property at 53 Carol Lane. Mr. Alosso maintained that he simply replaced a preexisting four-bedroom house with a new four-bedroom home, and installed the necessary septic system.
Mr. Alosso maintained that the case never should have gotten as far as it did. He said the Oak Bluffs board of health and DEP should have seen that.
Mr. Alosso said his experience provides one reason why good people avoid political service. "The smallest of accusations can turn into quite an ordeal for yourself and your family," he said. "I am glad with the judge's decision."
Y teen center closed after lead paint found
The popular YMCA teen center on Pequot Avenue in Oak Bluffs was closed in May and remains closed, after lead paint was discovered in the building.
A contractor preparing the building for a new coat of paint used a dry sander, spreading lead paint dust throughout the building, according to YMCA executive director John Clese.
Mr. Clese, whose own office and those of his program staff were located in the building at 57 Pequot Avenue, said he immediately closed the building, moved all personnel out, and cancelled summer programs for teens.
According to assessors' records, the two-story building, constructed in 1920, is owned by Cottagers, Incorporated. A registered letter from the Oak Bluffs board of health, sent to the Cottagers, Inc. in care of Thelma Hurd, "highly recommended" exterior and interior cleaning by a licensed deleader. According to test results received by the board, five of six samples taken from the building failed state standards for lead contamination.
Health agent Shirley Fauteux said she has no authority to compel a clean-up. "The lead paint law only addresses residential properties," she wrote in her letter. "Since this building is not residential, the board of health cannot issue an order to correct."
Mr. Clese said a state-certified contractor was scheduled to clean and inspect the teen center tomorrow, July 18. He does not expect to re-open the building for teen programs until the fall, when the facility usually gears up for after-school activities.
He said there was no concern about previous lead contamination to children, and no test screening was done. Mr. Clese said since the building had been painted over a number of times, it is very unlikely that children were exposed to any lead paint recently. The building opened as a teen center in March 2004.
In her letter to the building's owner, Ms. Fauteux suggested lead screening. "Since the property was used as a YMCA center, if any children under age 6 were in attendance there, I suggest they undergo lead screening."
Intoxicated boater ends up high, dry and arrested
Oak Bluffs police responded to a call at 10 pm Friday from a boater who said he had run aground. Dispatched to the beach area along Seaview Avenue, police found a 27-foot center console boat approximately five to ten feet above the high tide line.
According to investigating officer James Morse, evidence suggested the boat's throttle was fully forward and the ignition was in the on position when the boat, powered by a 225 horsepower engine, hit the shore.
There were two people on board: the boat captain, Andrew Tappe, 47 of Needham and a female passenger. Neither person was injured.
Lt. Tim Williamson said the pair had left Edgartown Harbor and were returning to Osterville. The seas were calm and there was a three-quarter moon.
Police arrested Mr. Tappe for operating while under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation of a boat, and operating an unregistered boat.
Lieutenant Williamson said Mr. Tappe and his passenger were lucky they did not hit a hard object or run into a dock or jetty. "This could have been a tragic accident," he said.
Oak Bluffs Police have recently begun working with the Coast Guard to patrol busy town waters. On Saturday night, Oak Bluffs police participated in a joint patrol aboard a 41-foot motor lifeboat dispatched from Coast Guard station Woods Hole. Mr. Williamson said there was heavy boat traffic, and the joint patrol boarded more than a dozen boats and performed safety checks.
Police made one arrest at 12:20 am Sunday morning, after checking a Grady White with six passengers on board. David Wolf, 23 of East Falmouth, was arrested for operating a boat under the influence.
Lieutenant Williamson said Oak Bluffs police are serious about enforcement and will continue their patrols. He said the object is to keep people safe on the water.
Martha's Vineyard Commission ballot deadline nears
The November election is still four months away, but nomination deadlines are fast approaching for a contest that figures large in Island life. Nine two-year seats on the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) will be up for grabs.
The powerful regional permitting and planning body is legislatively invested with sweeping powers that allow it to influence development across the Island. It exercises these powers by ruling on projects designated as developments of regional impact (DRI) and approving zoning regulations for so called districts of critical planning concern (DCPC).
Martha's Vineyard Commission candidates are elected at large to two-year terms, but there must be at least a minimum of one commissioner elected from each town and no more than two from any one town.
For example, a candidate from Aquinnah would still prevail over a candidate from Edgartown if the Edgartown candidate was the third highest vote getter from that town and even if he or she had more votes than the Aquinnah candidate.
The nine elected commissioners will join eight voting members appointed annually by the Island's boards of selectmen (6), the Dukes County commission (1) and the governor (1).
Candidates for the Martha's Vineyard Commission must collect ten signatures. Nomination papers must be submitted to town clerks' offices for certification of signatures no later than 5 pm, Tuesday, July 29.
After certification by the town clerk, nomination papers must be provided to the Secretary of State by 5 pm, Aug. 26.
The current elected commissioners are: James Athearn of Edgartown; Christina Brown of Edgartown; Mimi Davisson of Oak Bluffs; Richard Toole of Oak Bluffs; Douglas Sederholm of Chilmark; Susan Shea of Aquinnah; Linda Sibley of West Tisbury; Andrew Woodruff of West Tisbury; and Peter Cabana of Tisbury.
For more information, contact Mark London, Martha's Vineyard Commission executive director at 508-693-3453 or email@example.com
Polly M. Meinelt
Polly Mayhew Meinelt died on Wednesday, July 16, at Martha's Vineyard Hospital. She was 95 years old and a resident of Chilmark. An obituary will appear in a future edition of The Times.
Martha's Vineyard Commission approves downsizing Oak Bluffs garage
A decision made by the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) on July 10 approved plans from Joseph G. Moujabber to demolish a three-story structure many Islanders nicknamed the "Garage Mahal" and replace it with an addition at the back of his home at 10 Sea View Avenue Extension in Oak Bluffs.
The issues over the garage first arose in November 2003, after Mr. Moujabber, an Oak Bluffs businessman, applied for a building permit to replace an existing, single-story, 240-square-foot garage. The replacement he erected stands three stories tall, and includes sliding glass doors, balconies, and a roof deck.
During the course of Mr. Moujabber's permit applications, the Copeland District, which includes the area where his house is located, was designated a district of critical planning concern (DCPC) by the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
Oak Bluffs voters approved a bylaw to designate the Cottage City Historic District in April 2003. The north bluff where Mr. Moujabber's home is located was added to the Cottage City Historic District after his project was first started.
Neighbors contended the garage violated zoning bylaws. The dispute sparked a series of lawsuits.
The town eventually ordered the garage demolished, but in August 2007 a superior court judge vacated that order while related parts of the case were ironed out. The judge also vacated an order of the Copeland District review board, which denied a certificate of appropriateness in April 2005, and ordered the board to conduct a new round of reviews.
The Oak Bluffs selectmen subsequently referred the project to the Martha's Vineyard Commission for review as a discretionary development of regional impact (DRI) in September 2007, which the commission accepted for review in November.
In discussions with the commission's land use planning committee (LUPC) on June 23, Martha's Vineyard Commission executive director Mark London pointed out the project involved two separate issues. In addition to the discretionary DRI referral, the selectmen also had requested the commission to comment on DCPC regulations for the Copeland District.
Although the Martha's Vineyard Commission staff did prepare written observations about the Copeland District regulations, Mr. London prefaced the document with the caveat that it is ultimately up to the town and its boards to interpret its bylaws.
Conditions recommended by the LUPC and approved by the commission include limiting the lower level of the addition to use as a garage, prohibiting use of the building as employee housing, limiting demolition and construction to between Columbus Day weekend and April 30, 2009, and submitting architectural details for approval by the Cottage City Historic District Commission and the LUPC.
Mr. Moujabber's plan for an addition still requires approval from the Oak Bluffs zoning board of appeals and the Cottage City Historic District Commission.
Sgt. Monaco returns from Iraq
Staff Sergeant Richard Monaco returned home on July 9 after eight months in Iraq, his third tour of duty there. In November 2007, he was deployed to work with the 448th Civil Affairs (CA) Battalion based out of Fort Lewis, Wash. In Iraq he was stationed at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Falcon, and served in Ramadi and Baghdad. Sergeant Monaco sustained shoulder and back injuries in April when riding in a three-truck convoy hit by an explosively formed projectile (EFP) and has since recovered.
He arrived back in the States on June 26 and spent 10 days at Fort Bragg before flying to Providence last week. Sergeant Monaco's wife Muriel and daughter Felicia met him at the airport and drove back with him to Woods Hole. The family walked off the ferry together in Vineyard Haven, where a crowd of family, friends, veterans from American Legion Post 257, and waiting ferry passengers gave him a big welcome, complete with sirens from Tisbury and Oak Bluffs fire trucks. Several of the firefighters were colleagues of Sgt. Monaco's at Tisbury's department of public works.
Fire response outlined for Tisbury officals
Tisbury Fire Chief John Shilling outlined for the town selectmen the roster of participants, equipment and firefighters, that contributed to the emergency response to the July 4 fire. Tuesday's meeting was the first regularly scheduled meeting of the selectmen since a morning blaze destroyed Café Moxie and damaged Bunch of Grapes Bookstore on Main Street.
According to Chief Shilling, both the Oak Bluffs and Edgartown fire departments responded to assist the Tisbury Fire Department. Approximately 75 firefighters and 10 fire response vehicles were on the scene. Five Emergency Medical Services vehicles were present, with 20 EMS technicians. Also present were two emergency management personnel, as well as representatives from the building inspector's department, the Department of Public Works, NSTAR, and the gas and water companies.
Chief Shilling said reviews have concluded that his department needs a better response plan concerning crowd control at major emergency events. Chief Shilling cited problems with the crowd at the fire and problems, including identifying and organizing the press covering the event. He said that there must be a more organized way to give the press access.
To Times Readers and Advertisers
The appearance on the front page of the July 10 Times of an advertising message from the Mone Insurance Agency coincided unfortunately with the newspaper's coverage of the July 4 fire that destroyed Café Moxie and damaged Bunch of Grapes Bookstore. That result was not planned, neither by the advertiser nor The Times. Because the scheduling of the Mone company advertisement was done weeks ago by the advertising department and because the advertising and news departments function independently of one another, neither side of the newspaper knew that the advertisement and the coverage would, regrettably, appear together. The Times will take steps to be sure that such an awkward coincidence will not occur again.