A group of Islanders who have mobilized against moped rentals on the Island came before the Oak Bluffs selectmen this week with a formal complaint, outlining what they claim is years of violations and lack of enforcement of the town’s moped bylaws.

Members of the Mopeds Are Dangerous Action Committee said Tuesday there has been “repeated and continual unlawful licensing” of three moped rental businesses in Oak Bluffs: Island Hoppers, King of Rentals of MV, and Ride-On Mopeds. The complaint asks selectmen to declare the business licenses null and void and asks selectmen not to grant any new licenses.

Acting Chilmark police chief Tim Rich: "We just clean up the mess." — Mark Lovewell

The written complaint comes as the moped committee works on a number of fronts across the Island to raise awareness about the dangers of mopeds, including placing a nonbinding article on annual town meeting warrants asking about banning moped rentals.

Oak Bluffs is also undergoing a so-called SARA session related to moped safety, a mediation process which involves bringing stakeholders together to discuss the issue. The stakeholder discussion was suggested after the committee brought earlier complaints and concerns about moped rentals to selectmen this summer and again in the fall.

An accident last summer that seriously injured two young women on a rented moped in Oak Bluffs galvanized a longstanding Island movement against mopeds. One of the women lost part of her leg in the accident. Shortly afterward, the moped committee filed a complaint with Oak Bluffs selectmen about enforcement of town bylaws. In November members of the moped action group raised the issue again with selectmen, who vowed to take steps to improve moped safety and better enforce town regulations.

The formal complaint dated Jan. 20 includes a timeline detailing alleged violations or discrepancies that the committee said indicates that the moped dealers have been operating unlawfully, including regulation violations, unapproved license transfers, late payments, and other discrepancies. “We maintain that we are not telling anyone what to do,” committee member Nicole Brisson told the selectmen before a packed house Tuesday. “We are simply seeking an answer to our query and adherence to bylaws that govern the operation of moped businesses in town.”

Nicole Brisson read complaint on behalf of Mopeds Are Dangerous Action Committee. — Mark Lovewell

Her presentation drew applause from an audience of about 35 people.

“Quite a comprehensive package,” selectman Kathy Burton said. “Thank you.”

“Obviously a lot of work put into this, and it certainly raises questions to me,” selectman Gregory Coogan said, asking Mr. Whritenour if town counsel would look at the report.

Town administrator Robert Whritenour said there is a process for responding to the complaint, and that he will convene the police chief and others to discuss the complaint, with town counsel involved, before providing a report to the selectmen. “This evening’s meeting was for the purpose of receiving the complaint and hearing from these folks,” he said. He said the bylaw indicates business owners should be allowed to address any problems or issues.

“We take this seriously and . . . it seems to me that it’s obvious that I think the group would really like to get rid of mopeds,” selectman Walter Vail said. “It ought to be made clear if that’s what you really want done and what’s the process, because mopeds travel not just in Oak Bluffs. They travel all around the Island. It’s a broad, broad issue I think is going to be very difficult for us to handle individually as a board.”

“The selectmen are in charge of licensing,” Ms. Brisson said. “That is why we keep coming back to you.” She said the committee isn’t seeking to ban all mopeds but is focusing on moped rentals, which the town can control. She also noted the organization has been asking for answers about bylaw enforcement since September. She said the proposed town meeting question about mopeds would gauge town opinion. “In light of the fact that there have been . . . violations for 14 years, I think maybe we should just let the town speak if you’re not going to act,” she said.

Rental mopeds: dormant in winter, perceived hazard in summer. — Timothy Johnson

Acting Chilmark police chief and Oak Bluffs resident Tim Rich said the stakeholder meeting isn’t the right venue to address the lack of enforcement, noting that other towns are affected if moped rentals in Oak Buffs are not enforced.

“Chilmark has no choice over mopeds rented in Oak Bluffs, we just clean up the mess,” he said. He continued: “You speak about enacting new bylaws,” he said. “What possible faith would I have that any new bylaws if enacted would be enforced any better than bylaws enacted in 2004 have.”

Selectmen said they are taking the issue seriously. At previous meetings they have acknowledged lapses in enforcement.

“We’re listening to you,” selectman Michael Santoro said, noting that many of the violations listed in the complaint happened before the existing board was in office. He said selectmen have to look into the complaint. “I want to make sure we don’t just to around and pull a license and take it away for no reason at all,” he said.

“A lot of issues brought up and a lot of work done on it,” board chairman Gail Barmakian said. “Thank you.”

Mr. Whritenour said the mediation group led by police chief Erik Blake has looked at converting moped rental licenses into cars or Jeeps, additional training and monitoring for rentals, and a map of dangerous places on the Island that would be given to renters. Members of the moped committee, law enforcement, town officials, and moped rental business owners are participating in the mediation sessions.

The group will meet again in February, and is planning to have proposed bylaw revisions ready for the annual town meeting in April.