Garage With a View

The controversy over Joseph G. Moujabber’s illegal garage in Oak Bluffs has gone on for a long time — too long — and that may be the only point on which Mr. Moujabber and his neighbors can agree.

But the neighbors have good reason to be upset, and indeed, this conflict has struck a chord that has rung out around the Island, far beyond the North Bluff neighborhood of modest bungalows situated about a nine-iron shot from Nantucket Sound.

Four years ago Mr. Moujabber’s twenty two thousand dollar garage grew into a three-story home with balconies, in clear violation of the building permit. Later faced with a demolition order from the town, Mr. Moujabber opted to take the circuitous route through a maze of lawsuits, appeals and cross-appeals. Meanwhile, Mr. Moujabber has filed a so-called alternative plan that calls for tearing down the offending garage and replacing it with a new addition to the main house. This plan has come before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission for review as a development of regional impact.

The Moujabber garage is the symbol of a building permit that should not have been allowed.

And now the commission has an opportunity to do something about it.

The alternative Moujabber building plan is still far too big; as currently drawn it would block views in two directions — both looking out from the neighborhood and looking in from the nearby Steamship Authority wharf. A planned center tower is a hideous detail and the architectural equivalent of Mr. Moujabber thumbing his nose at the neighbors — along with the whole Island, which has followed this issue closely.

The tower ought to be the first thing to go.

The commission has the power to give this project the closest scrutiny and it should not shy from its role, refusing to allow anything out of scale for the neighborhood.

That would set matters straight and also send a strong message to people who violate building rules and then claim there should be no consequence.