The perennial friction between those who cherish the Old Martha’s Vineyard and those who want to fix it up has reached a new peak of intensity as the Island experiences another wave of migration and building pressure.

Weighing the cultural, environmental and economic effects of change is surely within the purview of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, which was vested 40 years ago with unique powers to plan and regulate development on this sandy outpost seven miles out to sea.

But by delving into the smallest details of individual projects, the commission is in danger of missing the forest for the trees. Even worse, it is risking the credibility it needs as the only Islandwide planning agency by playing into the hands of those who cry regulatory overreach.

Consider the case of the Harbor View Hotel, which takes center stage next Thursday night when the commission is set to deliberate and vote on an expansion project for the grande dame hotel that has long graced Edgartown harbor.

On the face of it the project appears reasonable: the hotel wants to rebuild what is known as the Bradley cottage into an expanded spa facility as an amenity for hotel guests.

But the cottage spa is set in a far more complicated picture, dating to 2008 when the hotel received approval from the commission for a major expansion and renovation project. The work was never fully completed, partly due to the financial crash, a change in ownership and a fire at the hotel.

In 2018 the commission approved modifications to the 2008 plan, including a major overhaul of the main building. But some changes had already been made without returning to the commission for review. Later a new pool bar was added that riled neighbors.

Hotel owners say the changes are needed as they struggle to keep the business going in a challenging economic climate. But neighbor tensions have kept mounting over other alleged expanding commercial activities at the hotel, such as jet ski rentals and the use of a private home owned by the hotel for weddings. At least one lawsuit has been filed.

On Tuesday this week, after exhaustive discussion, the MVC land use planning subcommittee approved a list of 12 somewhat draconian conditions to recommend for the Bradley cottage project when the full commission meets next week for a vote. Among them would be a provision allowing hotel guests to have not more than two visitors.

Why not just deny the project and invite the hotel to return for a comprehensive, retroactive review of plans for the entire facility.

That’s what the neighbors have been asking for all along.

In the short run it would sting for the hotel, but in the long run could serve to bring everyone to the table rather than putting the MVC in the untenable position of regulating the business itself. Ultimately, the hotel and its neighbors need to reconcile the very real needs and financial pressures facing modern resort hotels with the quiet, residential nature of the historic Starbuck’s Neck neighborhood.

The Island is facing enormous, some might even say existential, threats. The lack of affordable housing is beginning to impede its ability to provide essential services. Its capacity to handle sewage is at a standstill, and excessive nitrogen is causing havoc in its ponds. Each year, new varieties of ticks bring new types of disease.

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission is more vitally needed than perhaps at any time in its long history. With its broad powers and Islandwide reach, it has taken on the issue of climate change as a major focus, but could exercise a more meaningful leadership role in other areas that threaten the Island as well.

With a big potential agenda and limited resources, it is a not a question of whether what the MVC is doing is right, it’s a question of how it spends its political capital.