The Edgartown planning board voted 4-1 to approve the construction of a 115-foot AT&T cell tower on Chappaquiddick Tuesday night.

The vote caps years of protracted debate surrounding the proposed tower, with four of the five planning board members ultimately deciding that the tower’s potential to improve cellular service on the Island outweighed concerns about location and safety.

“The temporary tower is already there,” said board member Scott Morgan. “I’m happy with the presentation AT&T made.”

Vocal opponents who oppose the tower at its planned location said they will appeal.

Two years ago, the planning board approved the construction of a temporary tower at 14 Sampson avenue as the proposed permanent tower to address concerns from the Edgartown fire and police departments about cellular accessibility on the small rural island which has a single paved road, no commercial zoning and is served by a three-car ferry that crosses the Edgartown harbor channel.

Mr. Morgan said the past 24 months had proven the tower’s value to the Chappy community.

“What it boiled down to for me is the question of public safety,” he said. “I think the pros of the tower outweigh the cons.”

Board member Fred Mascolo agreed that improving wireless connectivity and cellular accessibility were paramount in his decision to okay the permanent tower.

“The ability to actually save lives because people can pick up a cell phone is invaluable,” Mr. Mascolo said. “This is an area that is more of a park than any part of Edgartown in that we have people out there without a cell phone, but we need to have communication. It saves lives. “It’s the most important thing regarding this area of the Island.”

Mr. Morgan and Mr. Mascolo also commended dedication of the tower’s vociferous opponents, Chappaquiddick residents Robert and Dana Strayton. “There’s really nothing quick about this one,” Mr. Mascolo said. “I think it’s the longest running permit we’ve done, come to think of it . . . it was a valiant effort by the Straytons, but look at what I’m sitting with right here, right now.”

Mr. Mascolo held up his cell phone.

“We all are,” he added.

One day prior, Mr. Strayton submitted a petition to the Edgartown selectmen with more than 100 signatures asking Edgartown to consider building the tower on town land rather than its current location on Sampson avenue, a small neighborhood of modest homes. Because the petition received the requisite number of signatures, it will automatically go on the warrant for the next special town meeting.

Board member Lucy Morrison was the lone dissenting vote in the decision.

“I think this sets a pretty dangerous precedent for the town,” Ms. Morrison said. “How close it is to the homes, it goes against the whole reason we have town bylaws. I’m opposed.”

Mr. Strayton agreed with Ms. Morrison’s assessment.

“This really undermines zoning,” he said. “The purpose of zoning is to prevent exactly this kind of project. Chappaquiddick has the strictest zoning laws. Now someone could go build a cell tower anywhere in Edgartown.”

All construction projects in Edgartown must comply with town bylaws and are subject to approval from the planning board. They may also face concurrence from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

After the planning board signs its decision to approve the construction of the cell tower, members of the public have a period of 20 days to submit an appeal. The Straytons said they plan to do exactly that, emphasizing that the fight is not over.

“Oh yeah, we’ll be here in two weeks,” Mr. Strayton said.