A superior court judge heard arguments Wednesday morning in an ongoing dispute between the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission and its appointing authority, the County of Dukes County.

The Hon. Richard Chin, an associate justice of the superior court, presided over the hearing, which was held in the Edgartown courthouse.

The two commissions have sparred on and off for years about who ultimately controls the airport, which is financially independent but owned by the county. The county appoints the airport commission.

On Wednesday, the two sides argued over the legal right of the county to expand the size of the airport commission.

Airport counsel David Mackey said the airport brought legal action not to be litigious but to uphold grant assurances. — Mark Lovewell

In late September, the county commission voted to expand the airport commission from seven to nine members. Within 24 hours, the airport commission was in superior court seeking to block the move with an amendment to an existing lawsuit.

The original case was filed earlier this year after the county voted to appoint the county manager to the airport commission as a nonvoting member.

The airport commission took the county to court and won a first round in August when Judge Chin granted a preliminary injunction allowing the county manager to be excluded from sitting on the commission.

In the latest motion to amend the complaint, attorneys for the airport claim the vote to expand the size of the commission was done without the required written approval from the state Department of Transportation, and constitutes an “action to reorganize” the airport commission in violation of grant assurances.

They cite it as the latest example of interference in the affairs of the airport, which has been fiercely defending its autonomy from the county for more than a decade.

Airport counsel David Mackey said Wednesday that the airport had brought the legal action not to be disagreeable or litigious, but to uphold the grant assurances which enabled the airport to receive millions in state and federal funding.

But Judge Chin said the issue of the county’s statutory authority should be determined first. He said the court’s role was to determine the legislative intent behind the statute.

“It clearly says [the county] can establish the commission,” Mr. Chin said. “There is no authority after that to change it and if that were the intent, it would have been in there.”

He said if the law intended to allow adjustment of the membership, then the county could increase or decrease board representation according to the outcome of each meeting.

Robert Troy, attorney for the county, said his client did not intend to expand the airport commission beyond nine members. Still, he said it has been the practice of other county governments to expand their airport’s board, including Norwood.

He said the commission could not decrease the membership until the current members’ terms ran out.

Further, he argued that the airport had no jurisdiction to bring a lawsuit to court in the first place. He said that authority belongs to the state agency that oversees airports, the Department of Transportation’s Massachusetts Aeronautics.

“The public interest is served by taking no action unless Mass Aeronautics . . . decides there is a problem,” he said.

Airport counsel David Mackey countered that his client has the right to sue to protect its interests.

He asked that the judge rule swiftly on the motion so his client could return to the business of running the airport.

Judge Chin said he understood the urgency of the situation for both sides, but would take the matter under advisement.

He said the issue was a question of law, and he would rule on it without any regard to politics or personal feelings.

Judge Chin also heard arguments in a series of lawsuits brought by former airport employee Beth Tessmer, who claims she was wrongfully terminated from her job.

In one case, Ms. Tessmer argues that she was unfairly treated during a disciplinary hearing. She said her grievance should have been handled by the county commission and not the airport.

She also claimed that in reviewing her case, the airport violated the Massachusetts Administrative Procedure Act, which sets requirements for judicatory proceedings.

Airport commission attorney Susan Whalen asked that the complaints be dismissed, arguing that Ms. Tessmer had not yet exhausted the administrative remedies available to her before bringing her complaints to court.

“The controversy before you is premature,” she said. She also said the administrative procedure act does not apply to local boards, and countered that the airport commission had complete authority over Ms. Tessmer’s grievance process.

In her final argument, Ms. Whalen criticized the form of the plaintiff’s action, saying it was “anything but a well-pleaded complaint.”

She described the third complaint, which she said had 45 pages, more than 300 paragraphs, and 21 exhibits, as an “incoherent rant” that is “rife with errors.”

“The unwieldy size and scope alone of the complaint warrants its dismissal,” she said.

Judge Chin agreed that the complaint included inappropriate materials and should be shortened.

“It’s certainly not going to stand as it is,” he said.

But attorney Theodore Saulnier, who represents Ms. Tessmer, said given the facts of the case, the complaint was about as short as it could be.

“There is more to this than meets the eye,” he said. “There is something going on at the airport which nobody seems to be able to control.”

In the end, he said he would be amenable to combining the complaints into one central suit.

“My client would like nothing more than to file one case in court and be done with it,” he said.

Judge Chin said he would take that matter under advisement as well.