The Oak Bluffs zoning board of appeals will continue a public hearing Thursday over a landscaper’s use of a property off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, following months of complaints from neighbors.
The issue stems from the use of a 55-acre parcel of land, known colloquially as “Tree Farm,” owned by Goodale Construction off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, next to the Eversource facility. The property is zoned in the town’s residential 3 district.
The hearing is an appeal to building inspector Tom Perry’s decision to allow Working Earth to continue its landscaping operations on the property. Perry determined Working Earth’s use is considered agricultural, exempting it from the residential zoning.
The continued public hearing begins on Feb. 17 at 6 pm. The hearing will be held in-person at the Oak Bluffs School cafeteria.
Over the past year, neighbors and direct abutters to the property have complained of activity going on at the property. On July 21, in a joint letter to the Oaks planning board, dozens of Bluff property owners described “loud activities” taking place on the property over the previous several months.
“We believe that Goodale’s has been prohibited activities on the parcel for least one year,” the letter states. “These include land clearing, material storage, building construction, and use of construction equipment and large trucks with back-up alerts.”
The letter goes on to say the continuous noise from the site has “disrupted the health and safety” of abutting properties and asks for strengtheninged enforcement and penalties of the zoning bylaw to prevent similar activities in the future.
Following complaints from abutters, Oak Bluffs building inspector Tom Perry sent a cease and desist to Goodale Construction owner Peter Goodale on July 7 regarding the property.
“We have no record of special permits or variances for this property to allow for the commercial activity that is being conducted. This parcel is located in R3, which is a residential zone.
On Oct. 6Goodale sent a letter to the board requesting permission for a zoning bylaw defined “contractors yard.”
On Nov. 24, Perry wrote an email to an abutter stating one business was allowed to remain.
“[Local inspector Matt Rossi] and I conducted a site visit here on Wednesday November 17th to observe the progress of the vacating of the contractor stored materials and equipment. All the materials and equipment that were to be removed have been taken out. The one landscaper that is remaining has been determined to be an agricultural use and is therefore exempt from zoning, they can remain.”
In another letter from property owners on Dec. 10the neighbors said they did not believe a landscaping business can be construed as agricultural use.
“We implore the zoning board of appeals for a commonsense ruling that a landscaping business is not an agricultural business, to do otherwise invites additional landscaping businesses to claim protection aas agricultural business on the Goodale site and other sites,” the letter states in part. “This would lead to a condition in Oak Bluffs where landscaping businesses in effect, are protected land uses since they would henceforward be considered agricultural.”
Speaking to The Times by phone, Goodale said he withdrew his plans to the planning board when he found out it was not something the board could approve.
“Since those things were drawn up, the overwhelming majority of companies that were on that property had been removed from that property per the building inspector’s decision,” Goodale said.
The one remaining company operating on the property is Working Earth.
“Some of these people think they’re my abutters when they’re not,” Goodale said. He referred to an 11.8 acre property to the north of his parcel that is owned by James “Jamie” Norton. The property was cleared in 2019 for farm use.
Goodale said he is not working on a new site plan for his property at this time.
“They fall under the horticultural use and so that’s what’s before the ZBA,” Goodale said. “They are growing plants.”
The group of neighbors contends that non-agricultural components remain on the site and “a new section of the site was added with plantings to provide the appearance of a semi-agricultural use,” according to a Feb. 14 letter to the zoning board.