The Vineyard Gazette – Martha’s Vineyard News


The Harbor View Hotel sued the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, challenging the conditions attached to the recent approval of a hotel spa extension, calling them too onerous, irrelevant and even illegal.

The commission approved the spa expansion by a 9-5 vote on July 22, with more than a dozen conditions including banning the hotel from accepting cash transactions at the spa, submitting to ‘a plan for the hotel’s pool bar and affordable housing for $ 500,000. contribution, among others.

In a 26-page appeal filed Tuesday, September 14 in Dukes County Superior Court, attorneys for the historic Edgartown hotel expressed frustration with the commission’s decision, requesting the removal or modification of 14 conditions. The complaint was signed by lawyers Kevin O’Flaherty and Mariana Korsunsky. Mr. O’Flaherty is a Boston attorney who has represented Harbor View in various legal skirmishes since 2019.

“The conditions imposed by the VMC go far beyond its authority and violate its own enabling law,” the complaint states in part.

The lawsuit represents the latest move in an ongoing legal saga that has pitted the hotel and local regulators against a group of neighbors in the Starbuck’s Neck neighborhood amid gradual changes to hotel ownership, including the controversial pool bar.

The hotel’s Bradley Cottage expansion into a 4,000 square foot spa was submitted to the commission late last year as a minor modification to the previously approved $ 55 million redevelopment plan of the hotel, which has taken place in several stages since 2008.

The spa proposal sparked wider concerns among neighbors, who used the commission’s forum to express frustration with what they described as continued and fragmentary developments over the past three years that have affected the spa. character of the residential area.

After multiple public hearings and adaptations, the committee approved the project with strict conditions limiting the hotel’s commercial development.

Other conditions limit the hotel’s use of a property it owns at 119 Water Street and require the hotel to submit a five-year master plan for the property. The MVC imposed strict deadlines for construction and demanded the creation of a long-term neighborhood preservation committee that includes stoppers within a 600-foot radius of the hotel.

In the appeal, lawyers for the hotel argue that the conditions imposed on the spa and hotel could make it financially untenable and are peripheral to the proposed project. They say the hotel made considerable concessions during the public hearing process which the commission refused. Instead, the complaint alleges, the commission bowed to the neighbors by instituting more onerous demands.

The complaint also argues that a condition, requiring spa payments to be billed to hotel rooms, is illegal under state law.

“The hotel was pressured by the MVC to withdraw its request to make the spa available to the public”, alleges the appeal. “The MVC ignored the hotel concession and imposed a more onerous condition, limiting the spa to hotel guests only and prohibiting, in violation of Massachusetts law, guests from paying cash for spa services . “

The complaint also claims that concerns about noise, cleanliness, lighting, traffic and property values ​​regarding other hotel developments, including the pool bar, were unrelated to the development. spa and should not have been included in the conditions.

“With the exception of traffic, these alleged impacts were completely unrelated to the minor and relatively harmless modifications requested in the application,” the call said.

The appeal was filed within the legal deadline of 20 days to challenge the decisions of the commission in court. The commission has not yet responded to the complaint.

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