MVC sets conditions, but are they enforced?
To the Editor:
When the Field Club in Katama sought approval from the Martha's Vineyard Commission, the owners offered up many conditions in addition to those set by the commission in their final decision to approve the project. From that point forward, compliance with those permit conditions largely becomes voluntary with any enforcement typically left to town authorities. Unfortunately, this is the case with many of the more challenging MVC decisions.
Just about a year ago to the day, anyone living in the Katama section of Edgartown was treated to a free concert whether they wanted it or not at a nonprofit fundraiser held at the Field Club. Complaints were filed that night but no action was taken, presumably because it was a one-night affair. This year, another nonprofit is holding a fundraiser on August 1, at the same location. It is hoped that there is not a repeat of last year's intrusion on the neighborhood, but even though the show will feature the soothing tones of jazz, it is unlikely that the amplified music will restrict itself to Field Club property.
That, of course, is the issue. The Field Club approval, condition 11, prohibits amplified music that can be heard by neighboring properties (Note, it doesn't say abutters as has been wrongly interpreted, and it also doesn't mean that amplified music is okay if it ceases by 10 pm, as established in separate Edgartown zoning rules). In a letter dated June 20, 2006, that same condition was proposed and agreed to by their attorney.
There is no record of how many other events have occurred at the Field Club prior to this or even if the event this week will impact the neighborhood, but if it does and if you are concerned about those impacts on the enjoyment of your property or non-compliance with the MVC permit, call the building inspector's office, the police, or the MV Commission. File your complaint and place your concern that you would like to see anyone subject to MVC decisions comply with them and that you support our local authorities in their efforts to facilitate compliance.
Why this is important has more to do with the commission than it does the Field Club, although the conditions of that approval were intended to minimize the impact on the neighborhood. There are also requirements that buses and trolleys be utilized to minimize traffic impacts on surrounding neighborhoods (condition seven of the decision). Commission members are consistently advising the public to speak up when non-compliance with MVC decisions is observed. The MVC has minimal available staff to conduct compliance evaluations let alone initiate enforcement and perhaps that is something that needs to be changed. A small assessment could be charged to each town to provide for staff to at least perform follow-up inspections and create some documentation to show to what extent compliance is being achieved. Look to other regional planning authorities as well, to see if there are existing models to aid in this effort.
Whether the issue here is noise and a diminishment of the quality of life on MV or compliance with MVC decisions, it would really be nice to get a handle on these two issues before we all become so complacent that we loose track of what is really important here.