Marking an extraordinary moment in the recent swirl of discussion about growth on the Vineyard, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission accepted a request late last night from the tiny town of Aquinnah to nominate the entire town as a district of critical planning concern (DCPC).
“We are in danger of losing the special character of the land, the gentleness of the community and the unique landscape unless we can guide appropriate development more effectively,” declared the Aquinnah planning board in an eloquent three-page, handwritten statement that accompanied the DCPC nomination.
The nomination includes all the land and waters within the town. It was discussed by the commission at 11 p.m. last night, near the conclusion of a long meeting that included a public hearing on a golf club proposal. Camille Rose, an Aquinnah resident who has been on the town planning board for many years, sat quietly through more than three hours of meeting until the commission finally took up the request.
“We are under huge pressure — we are getting two to three housing applications a week and we need a little breathing space,” she told the commission.
The statement which accompanies the DCPC nomination details the plight of the town in fluent language.
“Aquinnah and its history as an ancient Indian settlement typifies the essence of the Island, both geographically and culturally.... This is the last truly rural outpost on Martha’s Vineyard; the magnificence of the ocean coupled with the human scale of the topography still evoke impressions of what the Island was a hundred years ago,” the statement says.
The nomination is the result of a unanimous vote of the planning board last month. “This action has been precipitated by the current unprecedented development activity within the town,” statement says. “Without the protective covering of forests or woodlands, structures must be kept low and unobtrusive in order to preserve the beauty which has characterized this ancient Indian village. 
“Recently we have been presented with proposals for structures of huge proportions, both in square footage and height. The demand for massive homes with ocean views on interior (noncoastal) properties has created visual intrusions on the landscape....”
Districts of critical planning concern are special overlay planning districts which can be created through the MVC enabling legislation.
The commission voted last night to accept the nomination, which will now be the subject of public hearings. Later the MVC will vote on whether to designate the district.