A call from the denial by the Oak Bluffs Planning Board of an artificial turf pitch at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School progresses to Massachusetts Land Court. The planning board refused a special permit for the land in a 2-2 vote, with one abstention. By law, a qualified majority of four votes was required for the permit to be approved. Following the refusal, the school committee chose to appeal. The appeal apparently attempts to invoke the Dover Amendment. The Dover Amendment refers to a Massachusetts General Law which allows agricultural, educational or religious organizations to circumvent building codes and zoning regulations for certain projects.
A status conference in the case is scheduled for July 15 at 11 a.m. with Judge Kevin Smith presiding, according to the clerk’s office. A previous conference was held on June 24. Oak Bluffs planning board chairman Ewell Hopkins said it remains to be seen whether the appellants’ ultimate argument is that the planning board lacks the authority for such a denial, or that the scientific evidence is insufficient for such a denial. Hopkins said he plans to attend all court proceedings. High school committee chairman Robert Lionette could not immediately be reached for comment.