A new Oak Bluffs book festival is planned to move forward this summer after the backer made changes to the event following select board scrutiny of the proposed event space. 

Traci Smith went before the Oak Bluffs select board last week, requesting licenses for her proposed Martha’s Vineyard Black Book Festival inside and on the lawn of the Island Inn. The event, scheduled August 10, is envisioned as a celebration of Black literary excellence, according to the website, and would have panel discussions and food. 

“The last couple of years I’ve just had book gatherings, really to foster more community discussion,” Ms. Smith, who owns a unit at the inn, told the board. “I figured this year, it would be easier if I hosted it at my own home at the Island Inn.” 

But the board was hesitant to hand out amplified noise and liquor permits over long-standing concerns about whether the Island Inn could hold such an event under the town’s zoning regulations. 

The Island Inn is a condominium association that was built before the current residential zoning for the area. That means the inn can continue to do what it was initially allowed by the town, officials said. 

But the select board wasn’t sure if Ms. Smith, who owns a unit at the inn, would be crossing a line if she held the festival, which was imagined to host upwards of 150 people. 

“This isn’t about the event that you want to hold, this is more about the venue,” select board member Dion Alley said at last week's meeting. 

After the board declined to grant permits and asked for more information, Ms. Smith will now move forward without alcohol or amplified sound. The event will now also happen entirely inside the inn, which does not require a permit from the town, said Island Inn marketing manager Kharma Finley-Wallace. 

Despite the festival changes, the board still seemed interested in figuring out what the inn can do in the future. 

The town’s building inspector Matthew Rossi believed it came down to the number of events held there. 

“If the Island Inn is seeking to use the grounds on a frequent basis for large outdoor events it would need to prove that the use is pre-existing nonconforming or was part of their initial permit issuance,” he wrote. “After speaking with the Island Inn manager, the general impression I received was that they are not seeking to use the grounds on a frequent basis for large outdoor events, but instead for a few events annually.”

Editor's note: this article has been updated to reflect changes to the event plans.