At Thursday evening’s Martha’s Vineyard Commission meeting, chair Joan Malkin announced that the MVC and the Harbor View Hotel have settled out of court after a lawsuit filed by the hotel appealed the conditions of an approval for a proposed spa expansion.
The initial expansion proposal, seeking to build a 4,625-square-foot addition to its property’s Bradley Cottage and reconfigure the number of guest rooms per building were met with 14 conditions upon approval, which the hotel deemed in its lawsuit as “unsupported by the evidence, unreasonable, contrary to law, and arbitrary.”
A revised decision, slightly pulling back on conditions, was approved by the commissioners in a vote during a July 7 executive session, said Malkin, which was agreed upon by the hotel and “completely resolves” the legal battle.
This comes after the conditions of approval were cited by Harbor View as “grossly exceed[ing] its authority and violat[ing] its own enabling act.” The lawsuit stated that “the conditions should be stricken from the decision or amended as requested by the hotel.”
Contested conditions involved restricting spa access to registered guests, and requiring all charges to be made directly to their hotel room, which the hotel argued is discriminatory against cash buyers, and “illegally restricts operations of the hotel, and has the effect of making the spa economically infeasible.” The lawsuit cited an issue with a condition prohibiting spa access to the public, ultimately withdrawing the request and, instead, proposed limiting spa access to up to two guests of registered guests as a “reasonable and good faith compromise, which was capriciously rejected by the MVC without evidentiary basis.” The commission has since pulled back on the condition, agreeing to allow the latter.
The hotel was required to offer at least 22 single- or double-occupancy rooms, and three apartments, along with a payout of more than $500,000 to go toward affordable housing. Revised conditions require a contribution of $107,072 to the Edgartown affordable housing committee, and the availability of “not less than 25 single- or double-occupancy bedrooms” in addition to five apartment units which must be made available on a year-found basis. The hotel is also required to make annual $50,0000 direct-grant contributions to the community, and $50,000 of in-kind donations.
Additionally, the commission eased up on requiring the hotel to submit detailed plans concerning pool bar and restaurant use, because that was not referred to the commission by the town’s zoning board of appeals in the first place.
Harbor View Hotel general manager Scott Little later told The Times in a phone call that they are “thrilled and delighted” to have come to terms with the MVC. “We have nothing but honor and respect for the commission and the core work they do for the Vineyard,” he said.
Little said the commission’s “charge to find a balance” is a serious one, when considering benefits and detriments of a proposal, and that the hotel finds the remaining conditions placed on the project “appropriate. There are no conditions we are unhappy with,” he said.
Updated with a comment from the Harbor View -Ed.