Land Bank solidifies camping ban

Christiantown Woods Preserve and Arrowhead Farms management plan advances.

The Land Bank confirmed the ban on camping. — Courtesy MV Land Bank

The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission unanimously solidified the conditional camping ban on its properties during a Monday afternoon meeting, after the second reading of the recommended policy.

At a December meeting, the commission voted not to allow camping on its properties during the first reading of the policy, which stemmed from a proposal to develop a campground on the Southern Woodlands Reservation that came from Jacob Weaver of Boston in June. The idea was to build it on the old Webb’s campground location near Barnes Road. The commissioners referred their concerns over the proposal to Land Bank staff for analysis and recommendations. 

The added section for “camping and campgrounds” states that youth environmental education groups may apply for permission to camp on Land Bank properties as long as this is “infrequent, closely supervised, and limited to three or fewer consecutive nights.” Camping of any other kind or group is not allowed. 

Tisbury commissioner Nancy Weaver asked whether the restriction would apply to the 4-H program, and Land Bank executive director James Lengyel said that would be up to the discretion of the commissioners if an application was submitted. 

“Do you think this wording allows us … the discretion, with this wording, to allow a 4-H group?” Aquinnah commissioner Sarah Thulin asked. 

“I think it clearly allows that. I think that would fall under a youth environmental education group, and you can make that finding,” Lengyel said, later adding that who qualifies as a “youth” would be up to the commissioners. 

When Chilmark commissioner and commission chair Pamela Goff asked whether there were issues with “vagrant campers,” Lengyel said there have been some periodically over the years. 

Lengyel said the policy can be reconsidered in the future, and it will be distributed to the towns’ Land Bank advisory boards.

During the public comment period, Oak Bluffs Land Bank advisory board member Phil Cordella said the commissioners “really are dropping the ball in asking the right questions” about agenda items, particularly the campground policy. Cordella expressed displeasure about the policy during the December meeting.

“They just get stuff handed to them by the executive director on a silver platter, and you don’t dig that deep, maybe, and ask the questions or go down the roads that are beneficial to the whole community,” he said. Meanwhile, the commission unanimously approved the combined draft management plan for Christiantown Woods Preserve and Arrowhead Farms. This draft plan underwent a public hearing with the West Tisbury Land Bank advisory board in December. 

The commission unanimously approved its 2022 annual report, which will be included in the Island town reports. The commission unanimously approved extending Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group’s lease for a beach house on Chappy Point Beach in Edgartown.