Brazilian church plan sent to MVC for DRI review
What started as a simple application for a home business has become a much more complicated issue, involving the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) and a small Oak Bluffs neighborhood.
The Assembleia de Deus Nova Vida church on Ryan's Way, where Martha's Vineyard Hospital officials plan to move its daycare center during the reconstruction phase of the new hospital building, has received a cease and desist order instructing them to discontinue any use, aside from residential use, in the Brazilian church. The order came after the Oak Bluffs selectmen referred the church to the MVC as a development of regional impact (DRI). Church leaders postponed a meeting scheduled with the LUPC on June 4 to allow additional time to prepare documentation, according to MVC DRI Planner Paul Foley.
The issue first came to light when Valci Carvalho, pastor of the church, attended a selectmen's meeting in March seeking a special permit for a home-based business. Ken Chisholm, director of human resources for the hospital, said at the meeting that he had asked several other churches and business to temporarily host the daycare, with no luck. Mr. Chisholm said Mr. Carvalho offered his space. After repeated attempts, The Times was unable to reach Mr. Chisholm for comment.
Since that decision was made, neighbors started to voice objections. At the meeting, they said another business in the Brazilian church, which also has a landscaping business and is rumored to be a boarding house, would negatively impact the small neighborhood by increased traffic and wastewater flow. Ryan's Way, off of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road near the high school, currently has a chiropractor, tent company, and limousine service on the road.
Selectman Ron DiOrio was the first to speak up at the March meeting, stating that since the church is tax-exempt, it would not make sense to run a business from the same location. Selectman Kerry Scott expressed concern that the church had not been previously referred to the MVC, as is standard procedure, she said.
Town administrator Michael Dutton said at the meeting that the town does not have the ability to create a bylaw or zoning ordinance that would restrict the church's ability to run a daycare. But he told the selectmen that they do have the authority to refer the church - not the daycare - to the MVC as a DRI.
Soon after the meeting, Mr. Dutton said Mr. Carvalho withdrew his application for the special permit, after learning that, in fact, he did not need it in order to run the daycare.
After researching the situation and consulting town counsel Ron Rappaport, selectmen revisited the issue a month later at their April 24 meeting, where they unanimously agreed to refer the church - not the daycare - to the MVC for review.
The referral was submitted two weeks later by Oak Bluffs building inspector Jerry Weiner. Paul Foley, DRI coordinator for the MVC, said the application was designated as a DRI due to the section that requires review for a place of assembly that is 2,000 square feet or more. The church sanctuary measures approximately 900 square feet, but the entire building is nearly 5,000 square feet, Mr. Foley said.
Mr. Foley said he met with Mr. Carvalho recently, in anticipation of the LUPC hearing. Mr. Foley took a walk around the building and property, and said the MVC will be examining all parts of the property and its various uses.
The church is located at 1 Ryan's Way and is visible from Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road. It is an offshoot of the World Revival Church located down the road, which, in March 2006, was approved by the MVC to begin building. That church was also designated as a DRI due to its size.
Oak Bluffs principal assessor Diane Wilson said when representatives from the Assembleia de Deus Nova Vida church came in to get tax exemption papers and gain that status, they were already established as a church entity by the state due to their connection to the other Brazilian church, and were simply acquiring another property.
According to town records, Mr. Carvalho purchased the three-story building and property from Leslie and Christopher Look on June 30, 2006, for $1,051,000. On the same day, the building was transferred into a church entity, under the name of Assemblia de Nova Vida, Inc. On Aug. 8, it was transferred again into the Assemblia de Dues Nova Vida Inc.