Oak Bluffs counsel to draft ‘doughnut hole’ legislation

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.

The Oak Bluffs select board gave unanimous approval for town counsel to draft legislation for the “doughnut hole” land swap.

The town and the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank sent an intermunicipal agreement to the state legislature, but Oak Bluffs town counsel Jack Collins must draft the legislation for final approval. The town is using Collins instead of its regular town counsel, Michael Goldsmith, since Goldsmith represents the Land Bank.

Town administrator Wendy Brough said the town had time, since the legislature would not be back in session until the fall.

In a joint April 5 letter, the town and the Land Bank asked the Island’s delegation to file legislation in accordance with article 97 that would allow for an exchange of property. “The two lots are, for all intents and purposes, identical: in acreage, general configuration, natural features, etc. No cash is to change hands,” the letter states in part.

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.

The deal began in 2004, when the town and the Land Bank struck an agreement 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, to be used for affordable housing.

The deal sat in limbo for 17 years, but a new agreement was reached following a Times story that detailed the standstill between the Land Bank and the town. The parties reached an intergovernmental agreement in March.