Katama Association president David Finley made it clear Saturday that his association, while interested in the future of Katama Farm, is not a part of the group of aggrieved neighbors seeking to stop FARM Institute from leasing the 190-acre farm.
Mr. Finley, outgoing president, told the membership at their annual meeting he wanted to see a "detailed management plan which includes a realistic timetable for each element of the [Katama Farm] plan," and that it be given a public airing. He showed a letter that he wrote to the Edgartown Conservation Commission on June 9, and said the position of the association has not changed.
Selectman Michael Donaroma added the use of the farm by FARM Institute was consistent with the town's hopes for the property. Mr. Donaroma said the town owns the land and that FARM Institute will go through a process as they put their plan into use. "What they want to do with the farm and what they have been given permission to do are separate," he said.
The meeting. attended by 50 residents, began with Mr. Donaroma explaining his plans for subdividing the 25-acre Grant's pit, site of a former sandpit operation, and possibly putting in 33 house lots. "We could do 40 lots by current zoning," he said.
He said he had learned long ago, whether it was his business on Upper Main street, Grant's pit or Katama Farm, that the matter required getting along with neighbors. He spoke about his efforts to run his nursery business on leased land and how he had to get along with the neighborhood.
He said he planned to bring the Grant's pit subdivision before the Martha's Vineyard Commission this fall and expects to hear public comment from the neighbors; he said he has already heard from affordable housing advocates who are interested in some of the lots.
Neighbors of Grant's pit have complained for years about the dust, the noise and the traffic going in and out of the pit, he said. "We see it as an opportunity. It is a hole with many problems and it will take a lot of work," he said.
Elaine Putnam, an abutter to the pit, had her own concerns; she said she is disappointed in Mr. Donaroma's efforts thus far.
Mr. Donaroma said it was unfair for the residents to oppose a proposal written by FARM Institute, since it has not yet been fully approved by the conservation commission, landlords of the property. He said as in other cases, each step will be reviewed before it is approved.
Robert Jackson, one of the leaders of the group opposing FARM Institute, said they had tried to talk with the conservation commission but hadn't gotten a fair response.
"You think you've tried?" asked Mr. Donaroma.
"Isn't there room for compromise? Is there no room at all, or is it all or nothing?" asked Justin Wyner, an association member.
"We feel there can be a compromise," said Robert Farwell, another of the neighbors opposing the institute.
Tom Burke, an abutter to Katama Farm, told the audience that he wasn't opposed to a farm; he said he just wanted an assurance that the future farm would be successful.
As part of the business meeting, officers were elected for the new year. Jerry Lichtstein, former treasurer, was voted in as president. The new treasurer is David Gendron and secretary is Jay Bonanno.