To the Editor:
You are all invited to attend the unjust November 19 selectmen’s meeting addressing the long simmering issue regarding the neglected home based business zoning regulations in Oak Bluffs. My family owns property directly abutting the small residential property out of which Mark Crossland is currently operating a sprawling commercial landscaping business. Due to personal issues, he is now operating his business on his children’s property, which has grown so expansive that it entails the use of multiple landscaping vehicles, trailers and large commercial construction equipment, as well as numerous employee vehicles and chemicals, all of which are clearly visible to abutters, neighbors, and passersby.
Mr. Crossland’s large landscaping business and apartment on a small lot, operating out of a residential neighborhood, has had a direct impact on the inability to sell our property. We have been a quiet neighbor until the need to sell our property arose. The town bylaw regarding home based businesses should be simple to understand and enforce, “such business shall not exhibit any exterior indication of its presence of and variation from residential appearance,” however, the town of Oak Bluffs has repeatedly ignored my request to address this issue. Furthermore, Mr. Crossland’s operation is currently operating on a lot which is not large enough to support a special contractor’s yard permit. Just because a business has been operating for years, in direct violation of these regulations, is no reason to suddenly grant a special permit now. My cousin, Brian Packish, a fellow Oak Bluffs resident who owns a similar landscaping company, was asked to move his operation out of his residential neighborhood, and he complied. What makes Mr. Crossland’s situation any different? Nothing. Why should he be granted a special permit or given preferential treatment?
These regulations were put in place to protect neighborhoods and our property values. The town of Oak Bluffs has a responsibility to enforce the home based business code and special contractor’s yard permits. The fact that Mr. Crossland has been allowed to operate his business for so many years in this manner is a testament to the gross negligence of these regulations. This injustice is one which can and no longer should be tolerated by the taxpayers of Oak Bluffs.
This is a community issue, not just a neighborhood dispute. The issue of home based businesses and granting special permits regarding contractor’s yard permits is one which has far-reaching consequences. It impacts all neighborhoods. By granting Mr. Crossland a special permit to operate his sprawling landscaping business out of a small lot in a residential neighborhood sets a precedent, one that will spiral out of control in the community if the current regulations are not enforced. I urge the community to attend the meeting on November 19, at 5 pm, at the Oak Bluffs Library (bottom floor, back room). This issue can no longer be swept under the carpet.