The Ocean Advisory Commission will hold a public workshop tomorrow in Woods Hole in preparation of the draft ocean plan for the commonwealth.
Since passage of the Oceans Act in 2008, effort has been underway to develop the Massachusetts Ocean Plan for the nearshore waters of the commonwealth, which includes the land and waters between 1,500 feet and three miles from shore, under town and commonwealth jurisdiction. The Oceans Act requires the plan to be drafted by the end of June and adopted before the end of December of this year.
Prior to the Oceans Act, the Vineyard enjoyed strict control and protection of the nearshore resources. The Ocean Sanctuaries Act prohibited most developments in the area, and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission Act gave the commission the authority to review and approve or deny as developments of regional impact any developments within town limits, including their three-mile boundaries.
With the passage of the Oceans Act, structures are no longer prohibited in the Cape and Islands Ocean Sanctuary. The act acknowledges the authority of the commission to review developments, but also provides for appeal to the state Energy Facilities Siting Board.
With the relaxation of these protections, the Massachusetts Ocean Plan is expected to outline preferred locations, means of development, and limits to allow appropriately scaled development to proceed without damaging the resources.
“It is therefore of paramount importance that the towns, organizations and people of Martha’s Vineyard closely monitor the preparation of this plan and make sure that it properly addresses local concerns,” wrote Martha’s Vineyard Commission executive director Mark London in a letter that went out to all Island selectmen this week. “Martha’s Vineyard has a voice in development of the plan. Gov. Deval Patrick appointed Sen. Rob O’Leary and MVC coastal planner Jo-Ann Taylor as members of the 17-member Ocean Advisory Commission,” Mr. London also wrote.
The public is invited to participate in the Saturday workshop in Woods Hole, one of only two in the commonwealth. The workshops are considered critical steps as the June 30 deadline for the draft plan’s submittal to the legislature approaches. The workshop will be held in the Jonsson Center in Woods Hole tomorrow from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. For information contact Jo-Ann Taylor at email@example.com or by phone at 508-693-3453 extension 19.