High school’s planning board appeal progresses 

MVRHS is taking the Oak Bluffs planning board to the Massachusetts Land Court over the synthetic turf field denial. — Sam Moore

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. 


  1. Message to those who are still pro Plastic Turf:
    After all the information now available about the extreme toxicity of PFAS, you are still pushing for a Plastic Field?! Seriously?!
    You seem to have chosen to just ignore the shocking evidence that is emerging – showing the most dreaded harm we can imagine: altering the hormones that control our children’s sexuality and reproductive systems, causing harm of the worst kind, including infertility and birth defects – and, of course, also cancer.

    I’ve been hoping that the Committee members would wake up to actual reality – this plastic product is toxic!
    And 1000x more toxic for those who are playing on it, and especially for adolescents with their hormones raging out the gate on their mission to produce a sexually mature human being – but then their bodies get assaulted by billions of PFAS nano particles – several hours a week, for 4 years or more. Is there anyone who thinks this is an acceptable way to help our children through those crucial formative years?

    They say there is PFAS is in everything, and therefore a little more is of no consequence. A little bit more???
    Let’s take a look at the reality of playing on plastic turf:
    We have known for a long time that plastics are made from toxic materials, and that using them carries some health risk.
    And now PFAS: brand-new chemicals, rushed to market without the required EPA approvals. 80,000 chemicals in use, and only a few thousand of them tested and approved – they call it a runaway nightmare.

    Do you know that certain stress factors cause the plastic material to slough off mini, micro and nano particles of these toxic chemicals.
    And do you know that the most destructive stress factors are: extreme UV, extreme Heat, and extreme Friction, all of which are unavoidable on a plastic playing field.
    Now, please, imagine our kids playing on it – running with cleated shoes, kicking, sliding, crashing, bad turf burns, blood, inevitably absorbing nano PFAS particles straight into their bloodstream. Just imagine it.
    And, even worse, with every breath, they are inhaling millions of PFAS nano particles deep into their lungs, where they are absorbed into their bloodstream. Yes you can imagine.
    What damage will it cause? How long will it take to show up? How many will be harmed, and how severely? Nobody knows – this is brand new stuff – only time will tell. But the evidence they are seeing is terrifying.

    Now imagine them instead playing on a level lush organic grass field – soft, sweet, cool, no PFAS or other harmful substances – maintained in ways that have proven to provide highly successful school ball fields.
    I wonder, how many of you Pro-Plastic people have been to visit some of these successful Grass Fields, and have actually talked with the people who install and maintain those fields, and those who play on them.
    And the issue of nitrogen polluting our groundwater and ponds? There is no danger of that if managed as proposed, because the just-enough nitrogen applications are absorbed by the grass and the carbon-rich organic soil. (The nitrogen-pollution dishonor medal goes to our Title 5 septic systems, all of them, forced upon us by DEP, even though they all violate State Law, which prohibits the leaching of anything harmful into our groundwater and ponds – but that’s another story).

    And what about Harmful Pesticides? Not an issue because it will be organic.
    And grass fields absorb tons of CO2 from the atmosphere – whereas the lifecycle of Plastic turf produce immense amounts of CO2 pollution.
    Well maintained grass fields are forever, whereas plastic fields need to be discarded and replaced ever 8-10 years, at a cost far exceeding the cost of grass fields.
    Our high-schoolers need excellent ball fields, asap! Please stop talking as if there is no option other than plastic! Please stop talking as if the only choice is between plastic turf or just more of the same old bad grass field – you ought to all know by now that modern grass management has proven highly successful. They are at several Vineyard schools, and there are several High School grass fields within an hour from Woods Hole. Please, go see for yourself.
    It won’t be long before parents refuse to let their kids play on plastic turf – the PFAS evidence is rising fast. There is clear and present danger. Nantucket certainly saw that, and voted no.
    I pray that our pro-plastic friends will come to realize the severe risk, and understand that this really is the time to apply the Precautionary Principle. Please get an updated proposal from the Field Fund group for Grass Fields at the High School, and then give them the go-ahead immediately. Think of what’s best for the kids!
    I wonder, how long would it take to make a play-ready grass field?

    You are directly responsible for forcing our teenagers to continue to play on old dangerously bad grass fields – if not for you, our teenagers would have been playing on beautiful grass fields for a long time already, and when hosting visiting teams they would be proud of their field, rather than ashamed for their terrible current condition.
    They need a new field asap – please dear Pro-Plastic friends, please just get out of the way – please stop your ridiculous quest for toxic Plastic – please, look at the evidence, and you too will want grass.

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