Court action begins against MVC roundabout decision

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The towns of West Tisbury and Edgartown filed suit this week in Dukes County Superior Court, appealing the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) decision approving a roundabout at the intersection of Barnes Road and Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs.

“The Commission intends to vigorously defend its DRI [development of regional impact] decision, as it has in every case challenging a DRI decision, in order to pursue its mandate to protect the character and environment of Martha’s Vineyard,” MVC chairman Chris Murphy said in a statement. “The Commission believes that it thoroughly and properly reviewed this proposal, that its review benefitted from the perspectives offered by the public and the Commissioners, and that the court will give deference to the Commission’s expertise and efforts, and uphold the decision.”

Nearly 10 years in development, the roundabout was referred to the MVC for review as a development of regional impact. The commission accepted the referral.

On October 6, following several contentious public sessions, the commission voted 7-6 to approve a circular traffic interchange for the intersection that is now controlled with four stop signs.

On November 3, the commission reconsidered the action, but deadlocked 6-6. Failure to get a majority in favor of overturning the approval meant the earlier decision remained.

The two towns will pay the legal cost of the lawsuit and, through their share of the assessments which fund the commission, will pay part of the MVC’s legal expenses as well.

“It’s something we felt needed to be done,” Edgartown selectman and former MVC commissioner Michael Donaroma said Monday. “Hopefully, we’ll end up with no project, or a better project, in the best interests of the town.”