Tisbury selectmen renew a moped rental license

And table a warrant article on rental regulations.

Selectmen Larry Gomez, left, Melinda Loberg, and Tristan Israel approved Island Adventure Rentals license renewal, but with strict stipulations. — Stacey Rupolo

The Island-wide moped debate continues. In Tisbury, selectmen unanimously approved a license renewal, under strict conditions, for Island Adventure Rentals on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven through Feb. 1, 2018.

Jason Leone, owner of Island Adventure Rentals, also co-owns all three of the Oak Bluffs moped businesses — King’s Rentals, Island Hopper’s, and Ride-On Mopeds. Selectmen on Tuesday said he had to have an unobstructed track for test driving and was allowed to have no more than 90 mopeds on his site in Vineyard Haven, and all must be numbered and displayed with a sticker.

Mr. Leone raised issues about the 90-moped limit, because some of his customers who rent mopeds in Oak Bluffs prefer to drop off rentals in Vineyard Haven for convenience if they are taking the ferry from there.

“You’re making the other businesses suffer,” Mr. Leone said.

Selectman Melinda Loberg said she wouldn’t object if he accepts a return in Vineyard Haven from Oak Bluffs. “But it’s up to you to put that thing back on a truck and take it back to Oak Bluffs, so that you maintain 90 mopeds,” Ms. Loberg said.

“Absolutely, I agree,” Mr. Leone said.

The three selectmen unanimously added some amendments to the approval of Mr. Leone’s license. Selectman Tristan Israel added that any subsequent changes to moped regulations for 2017 will be applicable to Island Adventure Rentals.

Among amendments to Mr. Leone’s license, one dealt with the barrier between the test track and Beach Road, and selectmen agreed that prior to operating, Mr. Leone had to have a barrier approved by the Tisbury building and zoning inspector, Ken Barwick, and then installed.

Selectman Larry Gomez said that in recent years, roughly 10 mopeds that were lined up between the track and Beach Road served as the barrier. “So if a person who is test-driving a moped hits the throttle instead of the brake, they would plow into a lineup of mopeds before they went onto Beach Road?” Ms. Loberg asked.

“I have not seen that since I’ve been there,” Mr. Leone said.

“We’re looking for the safety of the people,” Mr. Gomez said. “We’re not looking for the safety of the motorbikes.” Suggestions for barriers included a fence or dividers that are used in road races.

Mr. Israel also added a condition that the company furnish a containment plan for water and oil runoff between now and the next license renewal.

“When we first started talking about this, it was about human safety, in terms of bodily harm, and that was our first priority, and I believe we’ve been working to address that first,” Ms. Loberg said. “Second priority that has been raised in the process is, of course, the environmental impact of this, and I think we all share the intent to upgrade our regulations to reflect something to do with that as well.”

In terms of enforcement, Nicole Brisson, one of the founding members of the Mopeds Are Dangerous Action Committee, asked selectmen about prior discussions of putting police in charge of monitoring the rental dealership to check for violations.

“I thought that the police were already supposed to be enforcing all of that for you,” Ms. Brisson said.

“They are fully engaged in this process with us,” Ms. Loberg said.

Selectmen set a tentative date for a public hearing on updated moped regulations for May 2.

In other business, selectmen agreed to table Article 14 on the special town meeting warrant, which asks the town to add a new bylaw for the regulation of rental housing in Vineyard Haven to better protect public health and safety by requiring property owners to register with the town and obtain a rental certificate from Tisbury.

Ms. Loberg made two distinctions, acknowledging that the proposed regulations have been deemed a “money grab” by various residents, further burdening Tisbury taxpayers. She said that Article 14, which was drafted by Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling; Maura Valley, board of health agent; and Ken Barwick, Tisbury building and zoning inspector, had the goal of keeping the town “healthy and safe.”

“I know that all three of these individuals have been into properties that are nightmares from a public-safety point of view and a public-health point of view,” she said. “I know I have been into some places like that, too.”

The second distinction has to do with state legislation that has not yet been passed, but is designed to raise revenue for the state in response to short-term rentals such as those offered on Airbnb, and Ms. Loberg said they are giving local communities an opportunity to adopt the state rules and fees, when and if it passes.

“I don’t want us to get confused between the two,” she said.

Chief Schilling said he supported the selectmen’s decision and wanted the regulations fully vetted by the public, but he is not in favor of waiting for the state to impose rental regulations.

In response to critics of the town’s “money grabbing,” Ms. Loberg emphasized that the town is not looking to get more revenue from local taxpayers.

“One of the ways of supplementing and helping the Tisbury taxpayers is for us to get revenue from somewhere else,” Ms. Loberg said. “And that somewhere else increasingly could be our summer visitors. These are the people who would actually be paying those taxes if we ever elected to be part of that state regulation.”