Inn owners haven’t been good neighbors


To the Editor:

I am a neighbor of the Lambert’s Cove Inn, and am stunned by the owners’ self-serving and disingenuous response to your article and editorial exposing the COVID cluster that was caused by a wedding there on Oct. 11.

Indeed, I have been a neighbor of the Inn, through more than a few owners, since the 1970s. During almost all of that time, up until the current owners, the Inn has been a quiet, benign presence in its neighborhood. But no longer. It has been disruptive and controversial since the Cains took over.

Principally, the Cains do not seem to understand that they bought a property that is a nonconforming, commercial use in a West Tisbury residential district. As such, it cannot be physically expanded, and the uses to which it is put are subject to town regulation.

Twice so far, however, the Cains have attempted to expand the Inn, the first a physical expansion, the second an expansion of uses other than as a hotel and restaurant. Both instances engendered strong and principled neighborhood opposition. The first was entirely nixed by the zoning board of appeals. The second was approved in part, subject to ongoing town oversight, and shaped, again, by the serious opposition of neighbors.

In these proceedings, as now, the Cains have claimed to be “deeply concerned … about … the Island community,” which presumably includes its own neighborhood. As actions speak much more loudly than words, this claim rings hollow. Two more examples further illustrate: The Inn is the heaviest single property user of Manaquayak Road, originally no more than a dirt driveway leading to the prior-to-the-Inn manor house. At one ill-considered event in the summer of 2019, the Inn held a luncheon for more than 100 guests, all of whom arrived in private cars, causing complete gridlock on the road. It took action by the ZBA to ensure that this chaos, a danger to neighborhood safety, would not happen again.

The Cains are also fine with amplified outdoor music (now limited by the ZBA to shoulder seasons). The neighbors, not so much so to not at all.

As to the October wedding, the real question is why the Inn chose to hold it in the midst of a pandemic, with the weather dictating that at least part of the event would have to be held in an enclosed space? Is this the Cains’ conception of how to demonstrate “deep concern about the Island community”?

Finally, the Cains are angry that the Times outed the Inn. But why should the knowledge that a COVID cluster was traced to an event there be withheld from the public? There is no discernible private interest of the Inn to be protected from the truth: It is open to the public. That carries with it a real, not pretended, responsibility beyond its highly questionable statement that it did all it could to make sure safety protocols were followed.

In this reader’s estimation, The Times has done a public service by providing solid reporting about this sorry event. Also, I agree with Richard Chused (whom I do not know), whose letter calls this event “shameful,” and further suggests sanctioning the Inn.

Nicholas W. Puner

West Tisbury