Oak Bluffs approves doughnut hole agreement

Land Bank, town to file joint legislation to complete the swap.

An agreement is in place to swap landlocked town parcel "S" with parcel "T." Parcels "O" (already owned by Oak Bluffs) combined with "T" would give the town a large parcel with frontage on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, expected to be used for affordable housing.

In a quick special meeting Monday, Oak Bluffs selectmen unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, ending the 17-year old “doughnut hole” land swap.

The agreement gives the Land Bank an April 2 deadline to file joint legislation with Oak Bluffs and petition the state legislature to authorize the 17-year-old land swap, and requires the town to set the Land Bank as owners of two parcels along County Road. In addition, the Land Bank will not take action on a third County Road parcel until the town reaches “a conclusion as to how its water supply planning may or may not involve this lot.”

The agreement comes following a Times story on Feb. 17 detailing how the complicated land swap had stalled. Within days, the Land Bank Commission added the land swap to a meeting agenda.

The doughnut hole, nicknamed because it lacks access from public roads, is a 24-acre parcel of land in the Southern Woodlands area of Oak Bluffs, landlocked by a large swath of conservation land owned by the Land Bank. In 2004, the town and the Land Bank struck a deal to give the doughnut hole to the Land Bank. In exchange, the town would gain a newly-carved-out 24 acres abutting an existing eight-acre town parcel with frontage on Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road, likely to be used for affordable housing.

“All right, let’s get this moving then,” selectmen chairman Jason Balboni said. 

The Land Bank approved the agreement at a Feb. 22 meeting. With the town’s stamp of approval, the next step is for the town and the Land Bank to file joint legislation with the state to complete the swap.