To the Editor:
Imagine giving $315,000 to someone to fix their roof. You’d expect them to be grateful for a long time.
But not the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association.
On May 15, 2021, the generous citizens of Oak Bluffs gave the MVCMA $315,000 to help them fix the roof on their church (the Tabernacle). A mere 422 days later, they decided to sue Oak Bluffs. And not only are they suing Oak Bluffs, but they are asking the court, if they win, to have Oak Bluffs pay their attorney fees!
This means we, the citizens of Oak Bluffs, are literally paying the MVCMA to sue us, regardless if we win or lose the suit. Remember: Thanks to our generosity, the $315,000 that the MVCMA doesn’t have to spend on their roof can be used to pay attorney fees if they lose. And obviously, if the MVCMA wins the suit, Oak Bluffs will have to pay both attorneys’ fees.
Oh, and just so you know, when the MVCMA asked the generous citizens of Oak Bluffs to give them $315,000, they had over $5 million dollars in cash in their accounts — they didn’t actually need the money.
That certainly doesn’t seem like gratitude to me. Does it to you?
So why exactly are they suing the O.B. planning board? What’s the dispute about? It must be something major — right? Well, no, it isn’t. In fact, the planning board approved their project!
Are you scratching your head like I am?
Why, then? The reason is because the planning board had the audacity to require the MVCMA to fulfill two conditions.
The first condition regarded wastewater: The planning board required “a letter of intent from the wastewater department with forecasted flow.” Oh, I should have mentioned the project includes a building addition to the Tabernacle that has 10 toilets in it.
Does that seem unreasonable to you? Shouldn’t our wastewater department want to know something about the amount of waste that will flow out of those toilets?
The second condition has to do with stormwater management: The planning board required the MVCMA to hire a third party “to look at other environmental techniques beyond bioretention” (also known as rain gardens), “including the possibility of reducing the amount of impermeable surfaces and stormwater management.” Oh, did I mention that the new building sits on the Flood Plain Overlay District, and that bioretention is not recommended for stormwater management in flood plains?
Does that seem unreasonable to you? Shouldn’t we make sure that the best system for managing stormwater runoff in a floodplain be implemented?
So what should Oak Bluffs do? Well, if I were making the decision, I would rescind the $315,000 grant to the MVCMA, tell our lawyers to go for it, and be grateful that I had an extra $315,000 to pay them.