MVCMA files second lawsuit against Oak Bluffs

The MVCMA filed another lawsuit relating to the Tabernacle restoration project. — MV Times

The Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA) filed another lawsuit against the Oak Bluffs zoning board of appeals over restrictions on planned restoration of the Tabernacle. 

The restoration project would include a 1,300-square-foot addition behind the Tabernacle stage for various improvements, including 10 gender-neutral bathrooms and improved accessibility for people with disabilities. This was originally approved by the Oak Bluffs planning board on June 8 in a 3-0 vote. 

According to the written complaint filed with the Massachusetts Land Court on August 12, the conditions the MVCMA received included allowing only “rough plumbing with no plumbing (toilets and sinks)” to be installed until “a method of wastewater removal has been approved” by the town, and requiring the MVCMA to “send a letter to all leaseholders to stating that no special assessments for the completion of this project can be levied upon the leaseholders.” Another condition states the MVCMA must “comply with the conditions imposed by the Oak Bluffs planning board under its site plan review decision.”

The MVCMA asserted in the written complaint that these conditions were “unreasonable,” beyond its control, and “vague and indefinite.” Additionally, the MVCMA claimed the conditions could “have the effect of rendering the approval a denial.” The MVCMA claims in its suit that the zoning board has unlawfully overstepped its authority, citing the Massachusetts Zoning Act that “exempts religious uses from certain zoning restrictions,” and that the approval fails to recognize that the project’s work would fall within the flood overlay district. 

Regarding the condition that the MVCMA must comply with the planning board’s conditions, the religious nonprofit filed a lawsuit in July against the zoning board of appeals and the planning board for exceeding their scope of authority by the conditions imposed on the approval of the Tabernacle restoration, so if they are successful in that case, this condition would become null. 

The MVCMA stated in the August written complaint it “is aggrieved by the conditions in the approval,” and its failure to “address the project more clearly” under the zoning bylaws. 

The written complaint calls for the nullification of the conditions, the addition not to be subject to review or having the conditions nonpermissible under religious exemption, and granting the MVCMA attorney fees and costs. 


  1. One of the big things that no one registers in their heads is that the water table in that area is about 5 feet below the surface. Most septic systems are that deep then have sand or gravel below that for the wet sewerage to filter through. If you put in 10 toilets draining into the water table, who suffers, who pays the Consiquentces and who the piper when it all backs up with nitrogen loads! MVCMA ??

  2. I have a question… How can we have an example of the effectiveness of the West Tisbury libraries’ Clovis composting system, and still have idiotic public officials in another island town that don’t know how to handle a few hundred pounds of poop a year?
    Just go over and look– It’s all right there– easy peasy– get your heads out of whatever element you decide to stick it in and get real.
    It’s not rocket science.

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