Oak Bluffs selectmen sanction owners of loose pit bull

Oak Bluffs selectmen voted Tuesday to impose a $200 bond on a couple whose pit bull has escaped numerous times, frightening children and other dogs, according to police.

On August 11, police answered a call from a Linwood Avenue home where the homeowners said the pit bull jumped two fences into an area where their pets and children play.

Sgt. Mike Marchand determined James Chaplin and Alyson Woollacott own the dog. When he went to their Pennsylvania Avenue home, Sgt. Marchand recognized the dog as the same one that was loose in his own yard on three previous occasions over the past five days.

“Both James Chaplin and Alyson Woollacott did not appear to understand the severity of the incident,” Mr. Marchand wrote in his report. “It appears highly likely that the animal will be on the loose causing public alarm.”

Selectmen agreed to send a written order requiring the dog be restrained at all times. If the dog gets loose again, its owners could forfeit the $200 bond, and face further sanctions from the board.

Currently, Oak Bluffs is without an animal control officer. The previous officer left the position, and budget restraints have left the position unfilled. Until July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, the police department handled most animal control calls. But the budget approved by voters at this year’s annual town meeting included no funds for animal control services. Since July 1, police have restricted their response to emergencies and criminal issues involving animals.

Also at their meeting Tuesday, chairman Kathy Burton convened a meeting of the Oak Bluffs Affordable Housing Trust, which consists of selectmen and the town’s affordable housing committee. The trust unanimously authorized payment of $2,700 to fund a housing needs assessment for the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) Joint Affordable Housing work group.

Selectmen Mike Santoro questioned why the MVC does not fund the study entirely from its own budget.

Mr. Santoro made a motion to authorize the spending, but included a stipulation that Oak Bluffs would fund the study only if all other Island towns funded an equal share. Edgartown selectmen have already rejected the request for funding.

Selectmen postponed a decision on an application for a special permit to operate a home business from Edno Carlos Miller, whose landscaping business on Leslie’s Lane drew complaints from neighbors. Mr. Miller said he has removed all equipment and materials to a rented property elsewhere temporarily, but wanted permission to store trucks, rocks, brush, and compost on his Leslie Lane property.

Board members questioned whether Mr. Miller’s business fit the criteria of a home business as defined by the town’s bylaws, but put off a decision until they can hear from neighborhood residents.