The Martha’s Vineyard Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to designate two ancient paths near Lambert’s Cove Road as ‘special ways,’ an important step for preserving the paths as part of the Island Roads district of critical planning concern.

In its nomination to the commission, the Tisbury planning board explained that the specific sections of Shubael Weeks and Red Coat Hill roads have appeared on maps of the area dating back to the 1800’s. The nomination was accepted by the commission on Nov. 21.

“This nomination is to protect some of the last visible remains of early foot and hoof passage in Tisbury,” the nomination states. “Generations have traversed these paths/trails long before the advent and introduction of the automobile and continue to this day.”

The roads intersect just east of the Tisbury/West Tisbury town line in the Lambert’s Cove neighborhood, running both north and east at about a 90-degree angle until they stop at Deer Hill and John Hoft roads, respectively.

Dan Seidman, who is on the Tisbury planning board and presented the nomination before the commission on Thursday, said that the names of the roads harken back to past usage or 18th century Vineyarders. Shubael Weeks was a town selectmen, while the lookout on Red Coat Hill was used by British forces to surveil the harbor during the Revolutionary War. On Sept. 10, 1778, one of them left a “red coat” on the hill.

Today, the coat is gone, but the name remains.

At the public hearing for the designation on Thursday, residents who lived near the two paths questioned whether the planning board had properly named and located the path designated Shubael Weeks road, and expressed concerns about gates that other residents had put along the paths in recent years. Should the roads be designated, they claimed, they should also have public access. They also raised concerns about the speed of the nominating process, and whether the town would have enough time to work out the logistics of the designation.

“If you do something about these scenic ways and not about these gates, then that’s not really fair,” said neighbor Scott Young. “The town is doing this too fast.”

Jo-Ann Taylor, a commission employee who coordinates districts of critical planning concern, said that the designation would have to go through a long public approval process that included hearings on regulations associated with the paths, a town meeting vote, and further approval from the commission.

“Regulations have not been decided about whether to grandfather the existing gates or not,” Ms. Taylor said. “The planning board has set up its own hearings.”

After about 20 minutes of testimony from the public, commissioners voted 13-0 to approve the designations. According to the commission’s development guidelines for roads designated as special ways, no other roads can be built within 12 feet of the special way and no fences, walls or structures can be erected within 20 feet of the special way’s centerline, among other regulations.

In other business, the commission voted unanimously not to review a historic renovation project located at 319 Main street in Tisbury. Commissioners decided that the scope of the work did not merit review, despite the home being constructed in 1800. Project manager Dave Johnson said that work would include energy-saving measures, like better insulated windows.