The Martha’s Vineyard airport commission has begun examining sub-leases in the airport business park as it continues to take steps to standardize its lease arrangements with tenants in the park.

A commission land use committee began inspecting properties in the business park in March. At a meeting Thursday, commissioners said they had discovered 44 businesses that have no formal records or requests to operate as a subtenant.

“There are a lot of people operating, and their subtenants, that we don’t know anything about,” deputy airport director Geoff Freeman said. “In the past, the few that have requested permission [for sub-leases] have submitted things in varying amounts of detail.”

Property manager Kevin Brennan, who is on the land use committee, said there are some 75 businesses that lease properties in the business park, which includes 55 acres east of the runways and another 17 acres around the airport proper.

Most leases have a provision that allows tenants to sublet the properties, with approval from the airport commission. Prior to the inspection, Mr. Brennan said the commission had only approved three tenants to sublet properties. He said there are likely more than the recently discovered 44 businesses lacking agreements.

“It’s an Island where people occupy buildings with a handshake,” Mr. Brennan told the Gazette by phone following the meeting. “It’s not like [the businesses] are hiding. It is just that the airport process hasn’t been tightly followed.”

In a related matter Thursday, the commission voted to formalize a lease with Eastwind Power, a small company founded by an Island couple and funded by an MIT research grant that had been allowed to occupy 10,000 square feet of property inside the security fence rent free for the last eight years. The company was working to develop a vertical wind turbine.

Based on memory, commissioners concluded the company was provided free rent in exchange for free electricity one the project was completed. They said the turbine was never completed.

“There is nothing in writing,” airport commissioner Geoff Wheeler said. “Nobody has seen [the turbine] running in recent times.”

Commissioners said the company asked to stay on the property through December 2021. Commissioners agreed to do so once a formal lease is signed at an annual rate of 85 cents per square foot.

Commissioners discussed possible sanctions for tenants subletting properties without permission, but in the end decided not to pursue punitive measures.

“Put them all on notice, give them a process, and give them time to catch up,” Mr. Wheeler said. “We just need to know who is in the business park, simple as that.”

— Will Sennott