A key subcommittee of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission began deliberating this week on a proposal for a private 18-hole golf club on the Edgartown Great Pond, but not before a brittle debate that saw one member of the MVC launch a harsh personal attack on a fellow commissioner.

The commission land use planning committee (LUPC) is expected to develop recommendations on the Meeting House Golf Club project in the next couple of weeks.

The Meeting House golf project is planned for 200 acres of land owned by the MacKenty and Bigelow families along the Great Pond. Developers for the project are Rosario and Barry Lattuca, a father and son team from Natick. Richard Friedman, a Boston real estate developer and seasonal resident of Edgartown who also owns property along the Great Pond, is a silent developer in the project.

The project is pending before the commission as a development of regional impact (DRI). A public hearing on the project was closed early this month and the public comment period closed last Friday.

This week spokesmen for the Meeting House project announced they had made changes in their turf management plan in response to a recent push for the commission to insist on only organic practices at any new golf courses. Calling the shift a new theme, the developers said the golf project will now focus on organic turf management practices.

In a final statement submitted at the 11th hour last week, the developers for the project said they will use no herbicides and will reduce their use of pesticides. A list of herbicides was included in the statement, but spokesmen for the golf group said on Monday that the list is a mistake.

Technically, the applicant is not permitted to submit new information or address the commission after the public hearing closes. Some limited discussion did take place on Monday night between MVC members and a few members of the project team.

Once the public hearing is closed on a DRI, the land use planning committee spends time evaluating information, including staff reports, with an eye toward developing a recommendation for the full commission on the project. LUPC recommendations are known to carry considerable weight with the full commission, although the commission is not bound to follow the recommendation.

On Monday night the subcommittee took the first tentative steps in what promises to be a challenging set of deliberations on the first of two golf projects which are now pending before the MVC. Public opinion surrounding the Meeting House golf project has been extremely heated. At the close of the public comment period last week the commission had received 780 letters on the project, 560 opposed, 216 in favor and four with no clear opinion. Letters continue to come in, although they no longer count as part of the record.

At the outset on Monday, the discussion centered on process.

Linda Sibley, a longtime member and former chairman of the commission, questioned the fact that the public hearing was closed before the commission had heard a report from its staff. Staff presentations are traditionally included at some point during DRI hearings.

“This is the first public hearing process I have ever been involved in where there was not an oral staff report,” Mrs. Sibley said. “I understand why it happened, because we were trying to accommodate the vast numbers of public who came to the hearings — we ended up by my count with 11 hours of public hearing which omitted the usual staff report.”

Mrs. Sibley said she was speaking on behalf of several members of the commission whom she said were concerned when the hearing was abruptly closed while they still had questions — especially for members of the staff.

Mrs. Sibley said it is still possible for the full commission to hear a staff report since the commission is still allowed to talk to its staff after the public hearing is closed.

Marcia Cini, a new member of the commission who is also on the LUPC, agreed with Mrs. Sibley.

“I am feeling the same thing. I am concerned that the hearing was closed before we had a chance for our staff to educate us on the issues,” she said.

But Mrs. Sibley came under sharp attack from MVC member Michael Colaneri, who dismissed the entire discussion as nonsense and openly accused Mrs. Sibley of an ulterior motive.

“Where is this going? You are going somewhere with this and I don’t like it,” he said. “I think you have some other agenda here.”

MVC member Leonard Jason Jr. intervened. “Let’s just do it — I am agreeing with you,” he said to Mrs. Sibley.

The discussion was rehashed briefly when MVC member Michael Donaroma arrived late at the meeting. Mr. Donaroma is chairman of the LUPC.

In the end, the commission voted to have the staff give an oral report to the full commission. It is not completely clear when the report will take place, since the scheduling is left up to executive director Charles Clifford, who was on vacation this week. But the report may take place at the next regular meeting of the MVC on April 8.

Absent a formal staff presentation, the land use planning committee held a limited discussion about the Meeting House Golf Club project, centering mostly on the issue of the use of chemicals and any new information that was submitted at the close of the public comment period. Committee members appeared to agree that the developer’s stated shift toward more organic practices is a step in the right direction, but it is unclear whether the developers have gone far enough to satisfy an array of concerns about chemical use and its possible effect on the pond.

Mr. Jason posed a blunt question. “Is anyone here in favor of a golf course that uses herbicides, pesticides and fungicides?” he said. Mrs. Sibley and Mrs. Cini said no, while Mr. Colaneri said yes. “I say no,” Mr. Jason said, adding his voice to the count. Mr. Donaroma, who owns a local nursery and landscape business, said he is inclined toward a middle ground. “I would rather see us move in a direction of looking at a lot of conditions [prohibiting chemical use] than to just say no,” Mr. Donaroma said.

But Mr. Jason issued a sharp reminder about the circumstances surrounding the project. “This is a game — why take the risk? This is for fun. None of these guys [who will play golf at the private club] are pros, none of them are going to go down to the Masters. Let’s raise the bar a little bit,” he said.

“Where do you draw the line? And how do we ensure that we haven’t made a drastic mistake?” Mrs. Sibley said.

The land use planning committee will meet again on Monday to continue the discussion. Among other things, the commission is expected to examine an array of benefits and detriments associated with the project as specified in the MVC’s enabling legislation, including whether the location is appropriate and whether the project adheres to local bylaws and local regulations.

“Next week, we want to talk about, is this the right location?” said Mr. Donaroma, referring to the top item on a checklist for developments of regional impact in the commission legislation.