Lagoon Ridge not dead in the water

Planning board will reconsider its vote at a future meeting.

Ewell Hopkins, left, chairman of the Oak Bluffs planning board, was the lone dissenting vote on Lagoon Ridge at a recent meeting. Thursday he agreed to bring the project back for a future vote. – Gabrielle Mannino

Updated March 6, 10:27 am

Legally speaking, the Feb. 22 Oak Bluffs planning board vote that denied the special permit for Lagoon Ridge, the proposed 23-lot subdivision off Barnes Road, was a valid vote. That was the opinion expressed to the board by attorney Michael Goldsmith in email on Monday, Feb. 26.

However, all is not lost for developer Davio Danielson.

On Thursday, March 1, the board unanimously voted to take a revote, 5-0. According to procedure, the revote could not be taken at Thursday’s meeting, and had to be scheduled later date. It requires Danielson and attorney Eric Peters to repeat the process of notifying approximately 300 abutters.

According to the agenda posted on the town website on March 6, the board will take a final vote on the special permit and subdivision plan at the conclusion of a public hearing on Thursday, March 22, at the town hall meeting room.

The majority of the board questioned the validity of the Feb. 22 vote because board member Erik Albert, who was attending the meeting by teleconference, left the meeting before the final vote. Albert has been one of the most consistent supporters of the development since the board began discussions in December. He did not announce that he was leaving the proceedings. It was only when board member Brian Packish checked the connection on the silent phone that he saw a text from Albert, indicating he had to leave.

Board members Packish, Bo Fehl, and Mark Crossland voted to approve, with three explicit conditions.

Chairman Ewell Hopkins cast the final and dissenting vote, effectively denying the special permit.

Although the board voted 3-1 to approve, the majority vote was not sufficient because according to state law, a special permit requires a supermajority, or a minimum of four votes from the five-member board.

On Thursday, the board was unanimous, and the majority was emphatic that the Feb. 22 vote was flawed.

“I admit there was a snafu and I was responsible for that,” Albert said, via teleconference. “The applicant did not to get a proper vote because of a mix-up,” he said. “That’s not a fair process.”

“It’s unfortunate we have to invalidate a valid vote, but this is due process,” Hopkins said. “It’s the unanimous feeling of the board, and that’s how we’ll proceed.”