Edgartown selectmen deal with bedrooms, buskers, and boats

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Approximately 30 Chappaquiddick residents packed a meeting of the Edgartown selectmen Monday to complain about a vacation rental property they said disturbs the rural quiet of the remote Island.

The property that is in the eye of the storm is advertised on several websites as a five-bedroom, four-bath vacation retreat on Sampson’s Hill that sleeps 10. The house at 7 Chapel Avenue is owned by Stephen Olsson of Manchester, N.H.

Several residents said Mr. Olsson had recently modified on his website the number of guests his house could accommodate, from 20 to 10.

The board of health issued a septic permit for two bedrooms in 1999, after an extensive review of the floor plans.

Mr. Olsson also advertises an adjacent property at 72 Chappaquiddick Avenue as a six-bedroom vacation rental. That property is permitted for six bedrooms. The properties share a tennis court and pool.

Residents went to selectmen Monday, after airing similar complaints to the planning board and the board of health.

“Many of my colleagues on Chappy are very concerned that the existing laws are not being obeyed,” said Siamak Adibi, a summer resident. “This island is heading to a destination to becoming Coney Island.”

Attorney Rob McCarron of Edgartown, who represents Mr. Olsson, criticized the Chappaquiddick residents.

“It seems to be ridiculous overkill,” Mr. McCarron said. “Mr. Olsson is doing his darndest to comply with everything. It’s almost a mob mentality. If the concern is over development, address it through the planning board. Don’t go on a witch hunt.”

Health agent Matt Poole said he has been refused entry to the 7 Chapel Avenue property to inspect the property.

“Either I’m going to be invited in very soon, or we’re going to apply for a warrant,” Mr. Poole said in a phone interview Tuesday. “There is good evidence here to support a warrant request.” Mr. Poole said if he finds violations, he will issue a citation and order the violations corrected.

Selectmen took no action, but advised Chappaquiddick residents that the planning board is addressing their concerns and is the proper board to deal with development issues.

In other action, selectmen authorized the police, fire, and harbormaster departments to jointly pursue the acquisition of a fire and rescue boat being offered as surplus property by the U.S. Government. The former Coast Guard vessel is less than two years old and worth about $200,000, according to police chief Tony Bettencourt. While the federal government is offering the boat at no cost, the town would have to install an engine and other safety equipment.

“This is a win all the way around,” Chief Bettencourt said. The public safety officials asked for authorization so they could act quickly to acquire the boat, and expect to work out a plan for outfitting and operating the vessel over the winter.

Also on Monday, selectmen voted to refer a dispute with a street musician to town counsel Ron Rappaport for a recommendation on enforcement of town bylaws.

Police say Josef Nocera, a guitarist and singer, has performed on Main Street over the past three weeks and ignored all police requests to stop.

The town does not have a busker ordinance, regulating street performers who collect money.

According to town administrator Pam Dolby, Edgartown has a long tradition of street performances, but the town’s hawkers and pedlers bylaw prohibit collecting money for goods or services, including music.

“We’ve never stopped anyone from entertaining,” Ms. Dolby said. “We simply say you cannot ask people for money.”

Mr. Nocera said the town is infringing on his freedom. “I was harassed by the police,” Mr. Nocera said. “I’m not in violation. I don’t sell anything to anybody. People can decide to give me a dollar or they can walk by.” Police officers who attended the meeting strongly denied the charge that they harassed Mr. Nocerra.