Citing an opinion from legal counsel, the chairman of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission Thursday night blocked a move by one of his colleagues to revisit the roundabout decision.
Two weeks ago, commissioner Leonard Jason Jr. announced his intention to call for a vote to rescind the MVC’s approval of the roundabout eight months ago, pointing to recent nonbinding referendum votes in five Vineyard towns that showed overwhelming voter disapproval of the project planned for the blinker intersection in Oak Bluffs.
But when Mr. Jason made the motion Thursday night, commission chairman Chris Murphy put a stop to it.
“In my role as chairman I have to rule that this motion is out of order and I cannot allow it,” Mr. Murphy said.
The commission voted to 7-6 in October to approve the roundabout, and then voted 6-6 a month later against rescinding the decision. The move to rescind was led by Mr. Jason who has been a vocal critic of the project.
On Thursday, Mr. Murphy said there was nothing in the commission’s bylaws to allow for a vote to be rescinded. He then passed around a letter from the commission’s legal counsel that advised against allowing the vote.
“The MVC must act within the confines of its enabling legislation. That legislation does not grant express authority to rescind a DRI approval,” wrote Gareth I. Orsmond.
Mr. Jason, joined by commissioner Brian Smith, argued strenuously for having the vote to rescind, saying the commission had made a mistake.
But other commissioners, even those who said they were against the roundabout, said they wanted to abide by the opinion of the chairman and their attorney.
“I voted against this project. I’m sorry it got improved,” said commissioner Linda Sibley. “I’m certainly not going to vote to rescind because I think it’s illegal.”
Mr. Smith took an opposite view. “Are we saying that if we really screw up and really make a bad decision that we can never go back and fix it?” he said.
Mr. Jason called for an appeal of the decision not to have a vote, which was defeated 9-4.