Perspective on O.B. zoning proposal 


To the Editor:

I would like to offer a different perspective on the zoning bylaw change that has been under discussion in Oak Bluffs, as well as a response to the letter submitted on Feb. 9, headlined “Concerns for Oak Bluffs Zoning Changes.”
My name is Dana Mylott, and I am the owner of DTALS Inc., a landscaping and tree business located here in Oak Bluffs. I am also the owner of two properties in Oak Bluffs, which are located in both the R1 and R3 districts of the town.
First and foremost,, I hear their concerns but I do think some of what they wrote is a bit misinformed based on the meetings I have attended and based on the proposed areas of change on the planning board’s website that I’ve reviewed (which I encourage everyone to go look at for themselves).
The letter points out that the board approved three different districts for light industrial use, but I believe these are proposals and nothing has been approved as of yet. Also, businesses have already been operating in these proposed areas for a long time.
I think it is very important for people to understand that there is nowhere for people like me to stage their operations, and I will give credit to Goodale’s for all the effort they have put forth to help the Island’s businesses.
This Island has long been a blue-collar Island, and we make up a large part of the economy here. We are more than just your neighbors living next door to you: we are your builders, landscapers, mechanics, plumbers, electricians, fishermen, and so much more. When did we start to care more about Airbnb rentals and other short-term rentals than we do about the men and women who, I would say, make up more than 80 percent of the economy here on the Island?
I looked up Airbnb in Oak Bluffs alone, and it says there are 1,000 rentals in the area. Many of those are in the neighborhood where people are upset about the zoning changes.
Am I to understand that it is acceptable for my neighbor off of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road to rent a six-bedroom house to 12 people for $60,000 a week, but it is shameful for me, as a landscaper, to invest over $80,000 in plants to build an edible footprint that I am giving away to people in need? This winter alone, I have been giving away firewood for free to people who cannot afford to heat their homes.
I look around my town and see signs that say “no commercial parking from 2 am to 6 am,” but if you have a one- or two-bedroom home, you can rent that short-term to six people who bring three cars to my neighborhood. Is that acceptable? 

I believe many people who are upset have invested their money in investment properties and don’t like many of the existing operations around them. However, these operations employ many year-round Island families that contribute to our year-round economy. 

I do not want to dismiss any year-round residents who are concerned about the bylaw change, as they have a right to voice their concerns. I think we all need to hear each other and help find the best solution. I think we all have to sit at the table, listen to each other’s views,and build a good solution for everyone. However, using scare tactics is not the way to move forward. 

The opposition letter goes on to say that “opening the door to these types of uses would have 

catastrophic and perhaps irreversible impacts on our residential, conservation, and agricultural-zoned neighborhoods.” However, I would like to point out that agricultural use encompasses much more than horses and cows, and I would encourage everyone to look up the right to farm under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40A. What we do as landscapers falls under agricultural use.

This letter makes it sound so frightening to have a neighbor who may or may not have a business near you. However, having a neighbor like me means that I come to your home when it snows and help shovel you out. I take the time to ensure that your property looks amazing so that my property looks better. I ensure that I do not make noise before 8 am or after 5 pm because I also have a family and want to be with them as much as possible. If ever you need help with anything, I am the first person to step up and use all my energy to help take care of you because that’s what a good neighbor does. 

I also have concerns with this letter that states: “The creation of these new laws would allow strip mall-like areas to be set up.” I think when you travel the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, you will already see much of it operating in a manner consistent with the proposal, and not much would change except that it would finally be official after years of discussion. Not only would it be official, but it would be enforced similarly to the board of health inspecting a restaurant once a year. Right now, there is no inspection process, and you see some people doing what they want at will, and you see junk everywhere and fires happening. I, for one, want to see that cleaned up and make it as safe as possible. 

I do agree with this letter’s point that everyone needs to go out and vote, but I also want to encourage everyone to read the facts first. I want to encourage everyone to consider the long-standing Island businesses that have been here longer than most people’s homes and help employ a lot of people as well as help make the materials people use in their homes. 

Lastly, I want to stress that I hear the concerns. I have always gone out of my way to help my neighbors. Not all people in the trades are bad neighbors. All we want is a fair shake. We do not want to hide behind the curtains so that we can provide for our families. Most of us are just here doing what we can so that we too can have a home here. Please do not forget about us.

Oak Bluffs is much more than restaurants and T-shirt and ice cream shops; it’s also our home, and we too want to be a part of our growing community. No one wants to harm your way of living. We want to wake up in the morning just like you and go to work. We are the men and women who go to work every day, picking up your trash, growing your food, raising and teaching your children, constructing your homes and additions, landscaping and gardening your yards, fishing for your food, and most importantly, being your neighbors. 

I ask you all to work with us and help us all move forward on this very important issue. Please go to the meetings and make your voices heard.


Dana Mylott
Oak Bluffs