An appeal of the denial by Oak Bluffs planning board of a synthetic turf field at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School is progressing in Massachusetts Land Court. The planning board denied a special permit for the field in a 2-2 vote, with one abstention. By statute, a supermajority of four votes was necessary for the permit to be approved. Following the denial, the high school committee opted to file an appeal. The appeal apparently attempts to invoke the Dover Amendment. The Dover Amendment refers to a Massachusetts General Law that permits agricultural, educational, or religious organizations to bypass building codes and zoning regulations for certain projects.
A status conference for the case is slated for July 15 at 11 am with Judge Kevin Smith presiding, according to the clerk’s office. A prior conference was held on June 24. Oak Bluffs planning board chair Ewell Hopkins said it remains to be seen whether the ultimate argument the appellants pose is that the planning board doesn’t have the authority for such a denial, or that the scientific evidence is insufficient for such a denial. Hopkins said he plans to attend all court proceedings. High school committee chair Robert Lionette couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.