The Aquinnah planning board will seek criminal charges against two seasonal residents and a local landscape company who topped a large swath of trees off Lobsterville Road without permission this summer.

Late last month, Mark and Joyce Friedman hired Vineyard Gardens to prune and top some 120 trees on their property on Skye Lane with no permit. Tree-cutting is strictly regulated in Aquinnah under a townwide district of critical planning concern (DCPC).

At their annual town meeting this year, Aquinnah voters approved an amendment to a town tree-cutting bylaw that added a penalty provision, including daily fines of $200 for each violation.

This marks the first enforcement action by the planning board under the amended bylaw.

Under the terms of the bylaw, the Friedmans and Vineyard Gardens now face possible fines of $24,000 a day for the violation. The Friedmans are seasonal residents of Aquinnah who live in Upper Montclair, N.J.

The cutting took place on July 30. The illegal cutting also allegedly strayed onto neighboring property owned by Amalie Kass.

Acting through their town counsel, the planning board filed an application for a criminal complaint in Edgartown district court two weeks ago. The town of Aquinnah and Amalie Kass are named as victims.

A hearing has been set for Oct. 19 in front of the district court clerk-magistrate. The clerk-magistrate will decide whether there is enough evidence to issue a criminal complaint.

The application for the complaint is accompanied by photographs of the topped trees.

The Aquinnah tree-cutting bylaw is one of many land use rules that were adopted in June of 1999 when voters overwhelmingly approved a townwide DCPC. The first of its kind in the region, the concept of a townwide DCPC has since gained a foothold as a zoning tool in other communities on the Cape and Islands.

Under the DCPC the town adopted an array of land use regulations intended to protect historic views and vistas in the scrubby, windswept landscape that is characteristic of the westernmost reaches of the Vineyard. Aquinnah is the second smallest town in the commonwealth.

At the annual town meeting this year members of the Aquinnah planning board said the tree-cutting bylaw came about in part because of an increasing trend among developers who knowingly violate wetland and zoning laws, and then pay the local fines as simply the cost of doing business.

"This is really designed to stop developers who come in and clear things without a permit with the intention of creating water views for profit," said planning board member Peter Temple during a discussion about the bylaw on the town meeting floor this year.

"In a town where we value every tree for various reasons, this is something that we take very seriously - it's one of the bases for our DCPC," said planning board chairman Camille Rose this week.

"We treat every violation of a zoning bylaw seriously, and we intend to pursue penalties and remedies that are available under our bylaw," said Michael Goldsmith, an attorney who works in the office of Aquinnah town counsel Ronald H. Rappaport.

Mr. Goldsmith drafted the application for the criminal complaint.

Under Massachusetts law the only way to collect fines for zoning violations is either by using a ticketing procedure or to apply for a criminal complaint in the district court. State law allows towns to assess $200 a day per offense.