The Harbor View Hotel is suing the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to challenge the commission’s list of conditions tied to an approval of an expansion project for the Edgartown hotel’s spa.
“The conditions imposed by the MVC grossly exceeded its authority and violate its own enabling act,” the suit states. “The conditions should be stricken from the decision or amended as requested by the hotel.”
In July, the commission approved the modification project in a 9-5 vote, with some commissioners saying their yes votes came reluctantly amid concerns about commercial expansion, the Island’s character, and the project’s piecemeal approvals over the years.
The Harbor VIew seeks to build a 4,625-square-foot spa at the hotel’s Bradley Cottage, with seven treatment rooms, instead of building a previously approved 1,620-square-foot spa at the main hotel. Rooms at the Bradley Cottage will be reduced from 12 to four, and a room would be added at the Pease Cottage. There are no net changes to the rooms, since eight rooms are added to the main hotel and the Pease Cottage, and eight rooms removed from the Bradley Cottage.
Portions of the project had already been approved in 2008 and 2018. In that time, the historic hotel went through two ownership changes and a fire in one of its buildings. Bernard Chiu purchased the hotel in 2018 before a complete renovation of the property.
In the 26-page suit filed in Dukes County Superior Court on Sept. 14, Harbor View attorneys allege the commission’s list of 14 conditions are “unsupported by the evidence, unreasonable, contrary to law, and arbitrary.” The suit calls for the conditions to be altered or eliminated.
The complaint was filed by Boston-based Goulston & Storrs PC attorneys Kevin O’Flaherty and Mariana Korsunsky.
Conditions include restricting the spa to registered guests, restricting the hotel from using a property it owns at 119 North Water St., requiring the hotel to use its “best efforts” to create a long-term neighborhood preservation committee comprised of abutters within a 600-foot radius of the hotel, and requiring the hotel pay a $535,000 affordable housing mitigation payment.
The suit alleges that restricting the spa to registered guests and requiring charges for spa services to be made to a hotel room is illegal, and can make the spa “economically infeasible.”
Additionally, the suit claims the hotel offered significant compromises that were refused and instead the commission established “onerous” conditions to please hotel neighbors. It also claimed that noise, cleanliness, lighting, traffic, and property value concerns, including the pool bar, were not related to the spa, and should be stricken from the conditions.
“With the exception of traffic, these alleged impacts were completely untethered to any possible impacts from the minor and relatively innocuous modifications requested in the application,” the suit reads.
MVC executive director Adam Turner declined to comment.