The Oak Bluffs finance and advisory committee has asked the town’s planning board to cease spending on the board’s lawsuit with the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School over an artificial turf field. 

The board voted last month to appeal a state Land Court decision that allowed the field to bypass local zoning restrictions, continuing a costly years-long battle with the school to prevent the installation of artificial turf. 

During its meeting Thursday evening, the finance committee agreed to send a letter to the board encouraging it not to use town funds to pursue the appeal. The letter was sent Friday morning. 

“At this point, the planning board has decided to appeal this decision and we’re writing a letter… asking them not to [spend the funds],” said committee chair Sherry Countryman during the meeting. “We are not taking a position on whether or not we actually support [the turf].”

The regional high school has been attempting to replace its grass athletic field with artificial turf as part of a large sports facility renovation on campus. The planning board initially rejected its proposal in 2022 over concerns that the turf could contaminate the area’s ground water and pose other public and environmental health risks. 

Land Court judge Kevin Smith ruled in November that the board lacks the authority to refuse the project, citing its protection under a state law called the Dover Amendment that exempts educational uses from certain zoning regulations. The ruling meant that the school could move forward with its turf installation without permission from the board. 

The board voted to appeal the Land Court decision on Dec. 19.

“A majority of the FinCom believes that this matter has been sufficiently litigated at considerable expense to the town and the planning board’s position was found to be without merit,” Ms. Countryman wrote in the letter. 

The planning board has yet to respond.

The high school has also run into funding issues with the lawsuit. At a meeting in December, the high school committee said it did not have enough money to continue paying its lawyer and the chair put a call out for donations.