The attorney representing the owners of a stand of willow trees which is gradually obscuring one of the Island’s best scenic views at the Tashmoo Overlook has extended an olive branch to the town of Tisbury over the dispute.

In a letter sent to Tisbury town administrator John Bugbee on August 15, Michael Goldsmith, an attorney with Reynolds, Rappaport and Kaplan in Edgartown, offered a formula for further talks about the problem.

He also took sharp issue with tone of the selectmen’s public response to the matter and the town’s legalistic approach in dealing with his clients, Thomas and Virginia Payette.

At a recent selectmen’s meeting board member Tristan Israel criticized Mr. Payette for failing to meet with the board and then communicating with the town through their attorney. He also suggested the town had a legal right to force the Payettes to trim or remove the trees.

“The Payettes were disappointed to learn, this morning, that the board of selectmen elected to air its views regarding the Payettes’ willow trees in the press rather than in a continuing dialogue with them,” Mr. Goldsmith wrote. “The Payettes’ choice to have counsel respond was based only on the town’s consistent reference to its purported legal right to a public view easement.” He also wrote:

“At this point my suggestion is that the board authorize one board member to meet with the Payette family at their property to see if there is any common ground.”

In his first letter to the town, Mr. Goldsmith said he could see no legal authority for the town to force the Payettes to cut the trees without taking their land.

The town could not act under its own wetlands bylaw, because that was not enacted until October 7 1982. The trees were planted in 1974.

And although the state Wetlands Protection Act predated the planting, actions or prosecutions had to be commenced within two years.

“A [Wetlands Protection Act] enforcement action brought 34 years after the planting is, simply stated, time-barred,” Mr. Goldsmith wrote.

Finally, he said, any action on the trees could not be taken without the consent of the board of architecture of Tashmoo Associates Inc., a nonprofit corporation which controls land use on properties in the area, including the Payette property.

Mr. Goldsmith said the Payettes were “not entirely closed” to further discussions, but any remediation work agreed to would have to be under their control and done by a competent person of their choice, consistent with the long-term health of the trees, and at the town’s expense, among other conditions.

Selectmen are expected to discuss the matter again at their next meeting.