Edgartown mediates dock dispute

Neighbors lodge complaint against Harbor View over alleged commercial use of North Water Street dock.

Neighbors of the Harbor View Hotel complained to the select board that a dock is being used for commercial activities, but hotel officials dispute that. — Gabrielle Mannino

Following a dispute over the use of dock at 119 North Water St., the Edgartown select board asked for owner Bernard Chiu and his attorney to work with town boards to assure compliance with regulations.

The issue stems from a March 11 letter to the select board from Dylan Sanders, a lawyer from Sugarman Rogers representing several neighbors of the Harbor View Hotel, who wrote that the hotel was using the dock at 119 North Water St. for commercial yacht charters, Jet Skis, and other hotel services such as luggage porters, which was an “impermissible expansion of the hotel’s nonconforming footprint.”

In addition to the private residence at 119 North Water St., Chiu is also the owner of the Harbor View Hotel.

Attached to the letter were several photos that appear to show a bellhop and assistant manager carrying luggage from the dock to North Water Street on an unidentified day in the summer of 2020.

In an April 8 letter responding to Sanders’ letter, Kevin O’Flaherty, Chiu’s attorney, denied the claim that the house is used as an adjunct to the hotel. He wrote that Sanders’ letter is “another chapter in [an] ongoing and relentless campaign by a handful of individuals who seem intent on continuing to harass Mr. Chiu and the hotel with meritless claims.”

O’Flaherty added that while Chiu is the owner of the Water Street house, it is separately owned from the hotel. He also stated that the yacht charters offered by Barton & Gray were operated off Memorial Wharf, not off the Water Street dock.

O’Flaherty also disputed the photos Sanders provided, and said they only show a bellhop meeting a person adjacent to the dock, and could have been an instance of Chiu receiving help with luggage from his private boat, which he added was not a commercial use.

At a meeting Monday, Sanders reiterated to the select board that his clients are concerned about the commercial use of a dock at 119 North Water St.

O’Flaherty, who was also at the meeting, said that yacht charters have never happened at the Water Street dock. “The long and the short of it is there is no commercial use of that dock ongoing, no commercial use of it in the past,” he said.

Harbormaster Charlie Blair said that in his discussions with Chiu, it was agreed that any charters would operate out of Memorial Wharf.

Issues between neighbors and the Harbor View are not new. There are ongoing legal disputes between neighbors and the Harbor View over a permit to have a pool bar at the hotel. Neighbors have also opposed the relocation and expansion of a spa at the hotel, which is before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission for review.

“We, as the town, will keep our eye on that dock and make sure what Mr. O’Flaherty says remains that way,” select board chair Arthur Smadbeck said. He asked O’Flaherty to work with the conservation commission, conservation agent, and marine advisory board to make sure regulations are being followed.

“Whatever the rules are, we’ll follow the rules. I just want to make sure my client is treated the same way other people are treated,” O”Flaherty said.


  1. I miss the old days when the Harbor View was the Harbor View. A classic old seaside hotel. Gracious, elegant and relaxed. Controversy free.

    • Plenty to miss about the old days and not just the Harborview Hotel. But it sure was a fun time when Bob Carroll owned it and had High School events there.

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