Zarbas sell O.B. property for $1.7 million

After lengthy litigation, the Zarbas pull up stakes in Oak Bluffs. — Rich Saltzberg

John and Susan Zarba have sold their Oak Bluffs property for $1.7 million. The couple fought zoning battles for years in land and superior courts over a guesthouse at that property, adjacent to the Oak Grove Cemetery. The Zarbas prevailed against the town in Land Court in a complicated boundary battle and against their neighbors Keith and Lori Murphy in Superior Court in a bitter fight over parking and other issues. The Zarbas later sought legal fees from the town, and were denied by Land Court Judge Robert Foster. The Zarbas also sought legal fees from the Murphys, but were denied by Superior Court Judge Brian Davis at a virtual proceeding on April 14. 

The couple and their neighbors the Essexes were also embroiled in a right of way fight against neighbors John O’Neil and John Feitleberg, the town, and the Murphys. That case settled. A federal complaint filed against the town, several of its officials, and the Edgartown law firm Reynolds, Rappaport, Kaplan and Hackney remains active in U.S. District Court in Boston. Judge Leo Sorokin presently has a motion to dismiss from the town and the law firm, and a motion of opposition from the Zarbas, under consideration. 

In a statement, the Zarbas wrote the sale came as a result of needing to cover debts incurred from litigation. 

“When we decided to build the guest home we intended it to be our forever home so we could rent the main house and afford to keep our family on the Island,” they wrote. “We never imagined being forced to defend our fully permitted and town-approved guest home, which did not require a special permit or a variance, against four ZBA appeals by the Murphys, three Superior Court cases brought by the Murphys, and two Town of Oak Bluffs Land Court appeals. After 4½ years we prevailed in every single action brought against us because we followed every rule and guideline that applied to our project. We’ve been devastated financially and emotionally. We have incurred a tremendous amount of debt hiring attorneys, expert witnesses, and other legal expenses. We sold our Oak Bluffs home to cover our debts and move on.”