A sharply divided Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School district committee voted 5-4 Monday night to appeal the Oak Bluffs planning board’s denial of an athletic fields overhaul at the school that includes artifical turf — further prolonging an issue that has bitterly divided the Island community for years, and sparking new controversy over the decision to spend taxpayer money on litigation.

“Let’s go back to the town, go to the courts and get this straightened out,” said committee member Louis Paciello of Edgartown, who voted for the appeal.

The project won approval from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission last summer after exhaustive review, but early this month the town planning board put the brakes on the plan, denying a special permit out of concern over the effects of PFAS chemicals in the town water resource protection area.

At the meeting Monday, Mr. Paciello said parents he’s spoken with have indicated overwhelming support for an appeal.

“They can’t believe something that is approved by the MVC can get stopped by the town of Oak Bluffs,” said Mr. Paciello, who has two children involved in sports at the high school.

Kimberly Kirk, the other Edgartown member on the high school committee, also voted for the appeal, calling the planning board’s 2-2 vote on May 4 “not really a decision . . . It’s a statutory defect at this point in time.”

Both the committee’s Oak Bluffs representatives — Kris O’Brien and Kathryn Shertzer — supported taking the legal action against their town.

“I have to listen to the science that was provided to the MVC,” Ms. O’Brien said.

The Tisbury delegation split, with Mike Watts voting in favor and committee chairman Amy Houghton opposed.

“I think that to put more money and more time into appealing the project is only hurting the kids,” said Ms. Houghton, who supported changing the artificial turf to natural grass in order to resubmit the project to the planning board. “There is no guarantee that this appeal process will take a short time, [and] the amount of divisiveness in our community is something that weighs heavily on many people,” Ms. Houghton said.

The three up-Island members also argued that an appeal would sow even more dissension in the community. “Taking this to the next level and having us go legally at town bodies seems to me to be an increasingly divisive act, and I’m very concerned about that,” said Robert Lionette, who represents Chilmark.

Skipper Manter of West Tisbury concurred. “I think would just be detrimental . . . to slap Oak Bluffs in the face with a lawsuit,” Mr. Manter said. “I think we’d be making a terrible political and financial mistake.”

Aquinnah member Roxane Ackerman likewise voted against the appeal.

“We have grass fields that deliver championship teams, and nobody can tell me that we aren’t doing well by those kids,” Ms. Ackerman said.

Monday’s vote came after the committee returned from more than an hour in executive session with attorney Peter Sumners, who provided recommendations for lawyers to handle the appeal, which must be filed by June 3.

On a second, identical 5-4 vote, the committee authorized Ms. O’Brien and Ms. Kirk to negotiate a contract with land use and planning law attorney Mark Bobrowski, of Blatman, Bobrowski, Haverty & Silverstein in Concord, as special counsel for the case for $375 an hour.

Mr. Sumners told the committee that his “educated guess” was that the appeal would likely require a minimum of 40 hours of Mr. Bobrowski’s work and perhaps as many as 80 hours, though he cautioned that litigation can be unpredictable.

“It’s always difficult . . . there’s no formula you can plug into,” Mr. Sumners said. “It’s more art than science.”

The committee also moved to pay Mr. Bobrowski out of the high school’s legal budget, which finance manager Suzanne Cioffi said has spent a total of $38,752.12 so far this year.

The athletic fields project, which has been in the works since 2015, has spent or committed nearly $493,000 to date, school system treasurer Mark Friedman said.

Meanwhile, the Oak Bluffs board of health joined the fray this week, meeting to review a draft two-year townwide ban on artificial turf that has been under discussion since late last year. The board has asked town counsel Michael Goldsmith to review the draft.

The online school committee meeting Monday saw procedural disagreement, with members debating at length at the outset whether to go into executive session for the purpose of discussing possible litigation. After an hour behind closed doors, committee members reconvened in public for more debate and the vote.

Members of the public also spoke.

“I think it is divisive and I hope the school committee does not go ahead,” Scarlet Johnson said.

Taking the opposite view, John Packer said legal action is necessary after the planning board overruled the MVC.

“Very bad precedent. We need to appeal,” Mr. Packer said.