William S. O’Connell agrees he cannot have a heliport on his Chappaquiddick property, but he still believes that he can occasionally land and take off from there in his helicopter. And the town of Edgartown has filed a lawsuit to stop him.
The complaint was filed Nov. 11 in Dukes County superior court after a helicopter reportedly landed on Oct. 25 at Mr. O’Connell’s Sandy Road property, in violation of an earlier cease and desist order issued by Edgartown building inspector Leonard Jason Jr. The order barred Mr. O’Connell from using a helicopter landing pad he had cleared on property he owns near his Chappy residence.
The reported landing occurred nearly two weeks after Thomas Grassia, Mr. O’Connell’s Natick attorney, sent a letter to Mr. Jason saying that while town zoning bylaws may prohibit his client from establishing a heliport, occasional takeoffs and landings are permissible.
On Oct. 18 Mr. Jason responded. Helicopter landings and takeoffs without question violate the town bylaws, the building inspector wrote in a letter.
The lawsuit alleges that on Oct. 25 at about 2 p.m. a helicopter bearing the same registration number as one registered with the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission under the name of a company owned by Mr. O’Connell, landed on his Chappaquiddick property.
Represented by its counsel Ronald H. Rappaport, the town is requesting a permanent injunction plus fines, attorneys’ fees and other costs.
The lawsuit is the latest development in five months of legal fencing between the town and Mr. O’Connell.
The cease and desist order was issued on July 27 after the news surfaced that Mr. O’Connell had cleared his Chappaquiddick property for use as a helicopter landing pad.
The Sandy Road neighborhood has been the subject of legal contention for more than two years. Mr. O’Connell and nine of his neighbors went to court to try to block three affordable homesites that were planned for three one-acre grandfathered lots on Sandy Road. The neighbors lost their case in land court and again on appeal. No further avenue of appeal is available and the case is now over.
The helicopter dispute will be decided by a superior court judge.