Neighbors protest Edgartown 'eyesore'
Residents of the Edgartown neighborhood surrounding Holly Bear Lane took their complaints to selectmen Monday about a neighbor they charge is running a business in a residential zone.
Margot Datz, speaking for about 20 residents who attended the meeting, presented a list of 10 complaints against Chris Chambers. Mr. Chambers owns a vacant lot at 440 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, according to assessors' records. The residents offered pictures, documents, and letters in support of their claim.
Ms. Datz and other neighbors contend that Mr. Chambers sells used boats, cars, scrap metal, and scrap tires from the lot. Ms. Datz said residents are frustrated and outraged.
Photo by Steve Myrick
"The misuse of the Chambers property is not only a residential problem, it is a town eyesore," said Ms. Datz. "We as a neighborhood no longer wish to be labeled 'the street where the junkyard is.' What I see is the abuse and manipulation of existing bylaws. I think he's smart as a fox. The whole town is sick of it."
Mr. Chambers did not attend the meeting. His phone number is listed as unpublished, and The Martha's Vineyard Times could not reach him for comment.
Building inspector Leonard Jason, who is responsible for enforcing zoning laws, rejected the neighbors' characterization of the property as a junkyard. "He is not running a junkyard," said Mr. Jason. "Was he? Yes. We stopped him from doing that." Mr. Jason said in recent months the condition of the property has improved, a point conceded by Ms. Datz. "A lot has been removed. It has been considerably cleaned up. I was very impressed by that," said Ms. Datz.
On February 18, Mr. Jason cited Mr. Chambers for storage of a recreational vehicle. Mr. Jason said if Mr. Chambers does not comply with the citation, the town will take the matter to court.
Chairman Art Smadbeck said the board is equally frustrated. He cautioned, however, that the town is obligated to follow due process, and he noted that proof of an illegal business is difficult to pin down. "We will do our best, to the fullest extent of the law, to get it cleaned up," he said.
The board directed Mr. Jason to check further on the whether the boats and vehicles comply with current zoning bylaws. After the meeting, Mr. Smadbeck offered strong support for the way Mr. Jason has handled the dispute.