Deal clears way to expand Katama Airport hangar

Edgartown’s selectmen, conservation commission, and Airfield commission, with the help of town counsel Ronald Rappaport, have fashioned a plan to expand the Katama Airfield hangar.

Expansion plans have bedeviled town officials for years.

Voters will be asked whether they want to approve the plan in two separate warrant articles at a special town meeting scheduled for December 14. If voters approve, the measure would still need special legislation from state lawmakers to take effect.

The solution would amend a conservation restriction on airfield property granted by Edgartown to The Nature Conservancy in 1988. That amendment would, in effect, remove the land where the airfield’s buildings are massed from some conservation restrictions. The Nature Conservancy would still control that part of the airfield property, but could not unreasonably withhold permission to expand the hangar. The hangar expansion plans are expected to be pre-approved by the town and The Nature Conservancy.

The proposal would entirely remove state control of that land.

The proposal would also convert about 6,700-square feet of land, currently mowed and used for airfield operations, to wild, protected land; add a 62-acre parcel that was left out of the 1988 agreement by mistake; and designate a zone for specifically defined airfield operations.

In return, Edgartown would grant a conservation restriction to the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank on a separate parcel of town-owned land off Pennywise Path. About five acres of the 21-acre parcel would be restricted for conservation. The remaining 16 acres could be used for conservation, parks and recreation, water supply, wastewater discharge, or solar projects.

Katama Airfield is home to 26 rare or endangered species of plants and fauna, according to the Katama Airfield Trust, which operates the facility.