The Martha’s Vineyard Commission on Thursday heard emotional testimony both for and against a proposal by the World Revival Church in Oak Bluffs to build a large tent with amplified music at the corner of Ryan’s Way and Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road for outdoor religious services, prayer groups and choir practice.

On one side were representatives of the church, who argued the tent was their last chance to continue to have religious services through the summer. “The church has made compromises . . . this tent is not their top choice, but something that meets their dire needs . . . they have no other place to go,” said Rosemarie Haigazian, an Edgartown attorney representing the church.

On the other side were unhappy neighbors of the church, who argued strongly against the tent, claiming the church has a long history of violating town zoning laws and conditions of approval from the commission.

“I would never think about putting up [a 2,500-square-foot] tent in front of my home and filling it with people and cranking up the music, because I have respect for my neighborhood,” said Russell Wendt. “I think many people who live on Ryan’s Way will say there has been a lot of disrespect over the past four years with everything that has gone on with that property.”

After nearly 90 minutes of testimony, the commission closed the public hearing and continued the matter until July 1, keeping the written record open until next Monday. The commission is reviewing the tent as a modification of a previously approved development of regional impact (DRI).

Two years ago the commission approved plans from the Assembleia De Deus (Assembly of God) Nova Vida congregation to build a 150-seat church on the site with a day care center for 26 children. The church has since changed its name to the Alliance Community Church.

Construction on the new church never started, although neighbors complained that the property was being used to store landscaping equipment and also as a rooming house. Two years ago Oak Bluffs building inspector Jerry Wiener issued a cease and desist order for both issues.

Meanwhile the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital continues to house its day care center in the facility, an arrangement that was supposed to be temporary while the new hospital was under construction. But apparently that has changed too as the hospital now plans to keep its day care center in the building permanently.

The situation became even more complicated last month when the church submitted plans to the commission to build a 50-by-50 foot tent in the front of Ryan’s Way property, to hold church services three nights a week in the summer from 6:30 to 9 p.m. with music and amplification.

The church has also submitted plans to the town planning board for an eight-unit boarding house on the second floor of the building, although the board has yet to schedule a public hearing.

On Thursday several commissioners reflected on the increasingly complicated situation, and questioned whether they should simply consider the tent as a change of use, or expand the discussion to include the apparent violations of the conditions of approval set two years go.

“My understanding of the issue, from what I have read, is whether we approve a 50-by-50-foot tent in the front yard. All the rest of this information, it seems, has very little to do with that decision, it has to do with the past record of the applicant,” commissioner Ned Orleans said.

Ms. Haigazian then took the floor and painted the portrait of a congregation plagued by financial problems. She said the church was forced to place its plans on hold when the economy went south two years ago.

“I recognize there have been requirements this board made to this church that have not been met. The economy being what it is, many people have not been able to do what they wanted to do. The economy certainly made it impossible for this congregation, at this point in time, to do what they intended to do,” she said.

She said the maximum capacity of the new tent would be 100 people. She said volume levels will be kept low, and most people would clear out by 9 p.m. at the latest. She said the church is aware of the neighborhood concerns and wants to do the right thing, noting that a new wall was built behind the building two years ago to shield the property from neighbors and cut down on noise.

“With the question of amplified music, certainly the neighbors have some concerns . . . but I am aware the Oak Bluffs police department has a decibel meter, and if that decibel meter is exceeded, we will either turn it down or turn it off. As long as we fall within the range that is acceptable, I think what they are proposing is a reasonable request,” Ms. Haigazian said.

Over the course of the hearing, new questions surfaced.

Paul Foley, DRI coordinator for the commission, said the church used twice as much water last year than allowed to under the conditions of approval, which triggers the commission’s nitrogen reduction policy. Mr. Foley also raised the question of whether it was legal for a boarding house and a day care center to share the same building.

He showed a photograph of piles of landscaping materials at the site, raising fresh questions as to whether the property is being used as part of a landscaping business.

Commissioner Kathy Newman said the plans fail to delineate the required number of parking spots.

MVC executive director Mark London said he consulted a sound engineer to conduct a preliminary review of the tent proposal. “It’s a pretty quick review, based on limited information . . . but he concluded the amplified music would go up to about 60 to 65 decibels, which would appear to go well beyond the limits that are acceptable,” Mr. London said.

Ryan’s Way resident Anthony Capelli questioned whether the church was sincere about being a good neighbor.

“The fence there was not put up because they wanted to put it up. They were forced to put it up, after many trips to the building inspector, because they did not want to work with the neighbors,” he said.

The commisison will begin deliberations next Thursday.