It is back to the drawing board for the Martha’s Vineyard Refuse District and its poorly formulated plan to expand the transfer station off the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road.

The plan had been roundly opposed by neighbors and was facing additional scrutiny by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. But the district has only itself to blame for its sudden death in what should have been a routine vote this week on town meeting floor.

The four towns that make up the refuse district – Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown and West Tisbury – had already approved a 20-year, $2.5 million bond issue for the expansion at town meetings last year. But because the votes occurred more than 45 days after the project was approved by the refuse district, a second round of votes was needed to satisfy legal requirements.

Things went smoothly enough in West Tisbury, where health agent John Powers parried questions about the reason for the expansion, citing an expected increase in state regulations including mandated recycling of commercial kitchen waste. The bond issue was reapproved on a voice vote.

But in Edgartown, which would have shouldered 70 percent of the financial burden, voters were clearly unconvinced by refuse district manager Don Hatch’s broad description of its goals, which included improving traffic safety and keeping up with state requirements. Pressed on the traffic issue, Mr. Hatch said there have been “fender-benders” caused by congestion on busy days, causing one resident to remark that $2.5 million was a high price to pay to curb minor accidents.

The project would have more than doubled the transfer station’s existing footprint by creating separate drop off areas for residential and commercial trash and creating a new access road around the perimeter. It has been dogged from the beginning by questions about its scale and justification, especially because Mr. Hatch has said it is not expected to result in more use.

One source of confusion is the plan’s resemblance to one created years ago when there was discussion of Oak Bluffs and Tisbury rejoining the district, even though that is no longer part of the consideration.

That it can be a trial disposing of trash in Edgartown on an August day is true enough, but surely this peak load problem can be alleviated through a combination of creative scheduling and a more modest reconfiguration of traffic.

That the state is considering additional regulations that could change the nature of trash disposal on the Vineyard is also undeniable. Already, the state has banned landfill disposal of commercial organic wastes by businesses and institutions that dispose of one ton or more each week, and additional measures intended to encourage composting and recycling are likely.

A report by Environmental Partners of Quincy found that 71 tons of trash is generated each day on the Vineyard, almost all of it barged off-Island for disposal. By contrast, Nantucket now recycles well over 80 percent of the trash it generates (though, admittedly, at a cost).

If the refuse district really believes its original plan is well considered, it needs to do a much better job of justifying its position to its neighbors, to the MVC and to voters with specific charts, maps and supporting facts.

But here’s a better idea: with a new opportunity to reconsider the plan, how about taking a longer view? A more comprehensive plan, that considers in detail what it would take to manage and reduce, in stages, the amount of garbage the Vineyard exports, would be very welcome.