Two longstanding Chilmark residents who own and rent out multiple moorings in town will be allowed to continue — for the time being, at least.

But Chilmark selectmen this week agreed to seek guidance from the state on the matter.

Earlier this winter, a sharply divided board of selectmen requested an opinion from their attorney as to whether the practice was legal.

The town of Chilmark manages 200 moorings and 53 slip assignments at Menemsha. Currently Jonathan Mayhew holds 25 mooring spaces off of Clam Point Cove and Lynn Murphy holds 15 spaces.

In a March 28 letter to the selectmen, town counsel Ronald H. Rappaport cited cases in Chatham and Harwich in which the state inspector found similar situations illegal.

But in his letter Mr. Rappaport also said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) guidelines governing state waters are not clear. He urged Mr. Murphy, Mr. Mayhew and the town to seek guidance from the state.

At their regular meeting Tuesday, selectmen said they will follow Mr. Rappaport’s advice, and meanwhile will allow the status quo to continue.

“I personally am very happy with the situation the way it is going on in Chilmark,” board chairman Frank Fenner said before a room crowded with working fishermen as well as the town harbor master on Tuesday night.

“It’s not clear that the state says one thing and we’re doing something else,” selectman Warren Doty said. “We’re operating within the fuzzy guidelines of the DEP.”

Lynn Murphy and his wife, Susan Bainbridge Murphy, attended the meeting as did Mr. Mayhew and his son, Matthew. After discussion among the board, Mrs. Murphy read into the rec-ord a lengthy letter she had written.

“The commercial use of the waters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts predates recreational boating by hundreds of years. Lynn’s commercial use of these moorings predates the permitting system in the town. Every harbor master since Herbert Flanders has sanctioned his use of these moorings,” she said. “The harbor master refers people to us when they have a boat and no place to put it. We advise everyone to make sure his name is on the [town] waiting list for a mooring.”

She continued: “The commercial use of those moorings has provided a service to the town that otherwise would not exist.

“Instead of taking these moorings from us, you should be vigorously supporting this small but still vital commercial enterprise in Chilmark, just as you support other town businesses, one that has continuously provided marine services to the boating public for more than fifty years.”

Selectman J.B. Riggs Parker agreed the service Mr. Murphy and Mr. Mayhew provide to the towns is important. “I agree with Frank that what has gone on in our harbors has been a great service,” he said. But he also said the current situation creates conflict between people who rent moorings from the two men and people on the town waiting lists. “I think the town needs to have guidance on exactly what we must do. The rule is you get one mooring and it comes off the town waiting list,” Mr. Parker said.

Selectmen will write a letter to the state asking for guidance.

In other waterfront news, selectmen held a public hearing on the proposed creation of two aquaculture zones in town waters. Rick Karney, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, presented the plan, which calls for creating 25-acre aquaculture zones in each of the three up-Island towns. In Chilmark, a ten-acre site northwest of Noman’s Land and a 15-acre site north of Cape Higgon have been proposed.

Over the past year, Mr. Karney, along with Island fishermen, have tested this type of aquaculture farming, now in use at the University of New Hampshire. “The preliminary results are very promising,” he told the board Tuesday. Fisherman Tom Osmers agreed. “There’s been a promising growth rate and a high yield,” he said. “The meat’s been of a first-rate quality.”

The plan also got a thumbs-up from town harbor master Dennis Jason, although he was concerned that the proposed sites could limit available fishing areas to local ground fishermen. “I support this, but I hate to see fishermen lose ground,” Mr. Jason said.

Selectmen agreed to close the public hearing and postpone further action until their next meeting. Meanwhile, maps of the proposed sites will be made available on the Menemsha docks and the board is actively seeking comment from town fishermen.

Mr. Karney appeared at a similar public hearing in West Tisbury on Wednesday and will appear before the Aquinnah selectmen on June 17. He is requesting that each board send a letter of support to the state. State approval is needed before the project can continue.

In other business, selectmen reappointed town plumbing and gas inspector George Apostolides. They voted not to reappoint town clerk Margaret Orlando. The details surrounding Ms. Orlando’s reappointment remain in executive session. Disciplinary issues were sited as the reason for not making the reappointment. Further details have not been made public.

Selectmen meet next on June 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the town hall. The meeting will include a publc hearing on waterways rules and regulations.