House parties are a regular feature of the summer season on Martha’s Vineyard, but a dispute in Edgartown over the use of a home in a residential neighborhood has spurred a new look at the sometimes blurry line between commercial and non-commercial activities.

The issue came to the fore earlier this month after the Edgartown select board received dozens of complaints about noise and traffic jams caused by a series of networking events, whiskey tastings and gospel brunches at a home off Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. Neighbors claimed the 2.4-acre property was more of an event venue than a home.

Keith and Fawn Weaver, the chief executive officer of the Black-owned Tennessee whiskey brand Uncle Nearest, which owns the house, invited people over for private events on a regular basis for nearly two weeks this month. No one had to pay to get in, and no permits were needed.

Things escalated when some neighbors decided that the perceived disturbance needed more direct action.

On August 16, the Weavers called Edgartown police with a complaint about incessant horn blowing coming from a neighboring property.

According to a police report, the man blowing the horn, Greg Bettencourt, had been frustrated with the so-called Uncle Nearest house’s activities. The couple captured several other videos of people laying on horns, including a woman who had driven up to the property to make her displeasure known.

Although Edgartown officials concluded that the property had stayed inside the letter of the law, the controversy highlighted a loophole planning board chair Lucy Morrison said has been on her radar for years. In response to neighbor complaints, town administrator James Hagerty pointed out that ventures such as Airbnbs and wedding venue rentals have long operated in residential areas.

To help make sense of the evolving real estate landscape, Edgartown’s new zoning bylaw review committee, which met for the first time this week, aims to tackle a laundry list of bylaw discrepancies and loopholes, from floodplain maps to short-term rental updates. Ms. Morrison, who formed the committee, said the review goes hand in hand with the town’s master plan.

“This is sort of my vision — a comprehensive review of the town’s zoning bylaws,” Ms. Morrison said. “This is why I joined the planning board.”

Other towns have already started looking at similar issues. Regulating fractional home ownership — similar to timeshares – has come up in Tisbury, as well as in Edgartown. West Tisbury has talked about reeling in short-term rentals and backyard wedding venues in town.

Oak Bluffs also has a subcommittee exploring zoning reforms and considering the increased commercial activity in residential areas.

“We are actively evaluating and making recommendations for this April’s town meeting,” said Ewell Hopkins, the chair of the Oak Bluffs planning board.

Edgartown building inspector Reade Milne pointed out limitations in the town’s current bylaws.

Not-for-profit events and activities are a permitted use for homes in the area, and there is no rule limiting how many events a property, commercial or otherwise, can have, Ms. Milne said. Even the house’s associations with the Uncle Nearest whiskey brand, and the fact that its owned by an entity called the UN House LLC, don’t necessarily mean its activities are commercial.

In light of recent events, planning board assistant Doug Finn floated a new bylaw amendment defining any rental activity “where the lessee is not a Natural Person” as commercial use. In this case, Mr. Finn defined a “Natural Person” as a human being, meaning that LLCs that could not be traced to human beings would be considered commercial.

“In the case of the ‘Uncle Nearest’ situation itself, it wouldn’t help, as it is the owner — the LLC — that is hosting the parties,” Mr. Finn wrote in an email with the proposed language. “However, this seems to make sense, anyway.”

Ms. Morrison said the board could also consider limiting the number of rentals one person could own before their activity is considered commercial use.

However, ideas like these are still very much in preliminary stages, Ms. Morrison said, and any bylaw amendments would need to go to public hearing and then eventually be voted on at town meeting before they could go into effect.

“There’s a procedure that needs to happen,” Ms. Morrison said. “Nothing happens quickly with these.”

There’s also no guarantee that bylaws that make sense on paper will translate well in practice, Ms. Milne said. Mr. Finn’s proposal, for one, would prove very difficult for Ms. Milne to enforce, since LLC ownership can often be purposefully opaque.

“It’s one thing to put a bylaw in place and it’s another thing to see how that bylaw is enforced,” she said.

Ben Robinson, the chair of the Tisbury planning board, said he thought the Uncle Nearest situation was an outlier. He said concerns in his town revolved around the demand for rental homes, and the lack of space to meet the growing demands on construction and landscaping companies.

“They don’t have anywhere to store their stuff,” he said.

Oak Bluffs had similar concerns, including the parking of large trucks at home businesses and storage containers moving into yards to deal with the Island’s limited commercial building availability.

Right now several towns allow and, in some instances, encourage certain types of home businesses. Auto shops, farm stands and home offices are all commonplace.

“Selling produce from a farmstand they produced themselves, that’s a home business,” said Leah Smith, the chair of the West Tisbury planning board. “We want to preserve our agricultural heritage.” 

When things usually get complicated is when a property starts to draw a lot of traffic coming in and out, said Ms. Smith.

In West Tisbury, the proliferation of backyard wedding venues and short-term rentals are being scrutinized.

Last year, Georgia lawyer David Reed was hoping to start a wedding business in a 9.6-acre residential property on Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. The town could allow plumbing, landscaping, contracting, auto repair, an art studio, a health club, a locksmith, tailoring, word processing or a host of other types of businesses, but a wedding venue didn’t fall under any of the allowed categories and the project was withdrawn.

Some feel that people should be able to host a wedding or two in their backyard, but it’s hard to tell when something no longer is a residential property and becomes a commercial venture, said Ms. Smith.

“It turns out to be trickier than you’d think,” she said.