Citing a desire to pursue other interests including the Island Plan and his business at Morning Glory Farm, James Athearn, Edgartown’s representative to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission for the past 10 years, quietly resigned his post last month.

Mr. Athearn submitted a letter to the selectmen in early December saying that he would not seek reappointment this year. He has represented Edgartown on the commission for 10 years and was the top vote-getter in a highly contested election in November of 2000, at a time when a series of golf course developments were the subject of heated debate on the Island. The second top vote-getter was another farmer, Andrew Woodruff.

“We have new faces; I think the commission is going to change a little bit in its direction,” said the late Chuck Clifford, who was MVC executive director at the time.

“I was gratified at the time that people voted for me; I don’t know what it was, but I tried to do what I could to let people know that I was for conservation and if they didn’t want that then they shouldn’t vote for me,” Mr. Athearn said in a telephone interview this week.

Last year Mr. Athearn did not run for the elected seat because he failed to file his nomination papers in time, but he was later appointed by the selectmen to represent the town. The appointments run for one year.

The selectmen voted last week to appoint James Joyce, a real estate broker, to the position.

Looking back on his decade at the commission this week, Mr. Athearn said standing for conservation was one thing, but getting the job done was not always easy.

“It was frustrating at first to find we still didn’t have a handle on residential development; even though they were modified [by the commission] there were still several large residential subdivisions on the ground, and we reviewed office buildings, inns, hotels, affordable housing projects . . .” he said.

Mr. Athearn said the Island Plan is an important achievement by the commission.

“When we got the Island Plan launched, we got to addressing the big picture; all the people who had wanted the Kennedy Bill and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission in the first place, they said ‘This is what we are worried about . . .’ And here again, it is frustrating that we just couldn’t make the world a better place immediately, but we had to do the homework and reaffirm the attitude of various Vineyard people and to document rather than make assumptions about various economic factors. There is a whole lot in the Island Plan where we have studies done or facts dug out, and now we need to take those things further.

“As much as I can, I will be part of the effort to see what we can do on various fronts to make our future happen the way we have stated we want it to. Sometimes it’s a matter of saying, ‘Here is what you want, but you don’t want to make it happen because now you’ve got to stick your neck out.’

“The fact is, we have choices to make.”

He continued:

“There are people in leadership who don’t see there being a problem; they don’t see what finite means, why would we slow down building, it’s not doing any harm? But you just have to do a little arithmetic to see that those drops in the bucket really do add up.”

Frustrations aside, Mr. Athearn maintains a sanguine outlook.

“No, it’s not too late because here we are, but we’ve got to save what we’ve got,” he said.

As for his personal choice, he called it positive.

“Maybe I can be more effective on the outside,” he said, adding: “I’ve put in nine years and put off jobs that need doing on the farm while I have been attending meetings and such. But it was worth it.”

He concluded: “People can’t just spend time working on their own stuff; they have to put in some time working for the good of the community. It’s important.”