The Oak Bluffs select board denied a Healey Square restaurant’s plans to expand its outdoor seating this week, capping debate that has been going on since April. 

The Pawnee House Tuesday presented two proposals for seasonal outdoor dining for the restaurant on Kennebec avenue. Both options prompted concerns from the select board and, after three meetings, a third compromise was put forward by select board member Tom Hallahan. 

The compromise would have allowed the Pawnee House to put out three 18-inch tables abutting the restaurant and Healey Square from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.Wednesday through Sunday. But the board remained split on the idea and the proposal failed to get enough votes.

K. Mark Leonard and Mr. Hallahan voted in favor. Gail Barmarkian and Dion Alley voted against; Emma Green-Beach abstained, saying she wanted to hear more on the situation from the town’s attorney. 

“I don’t think this is smart to do this without more feedback from counsel,” Ms. Green-Beach said.

The Pawnee House’s initially proposed putting tables along Healey Square. Part of the set up would require the use of town property. Select board members worried how this would impede pedestrian traffic on the square in addition to the question of allowing the service of alcohol on town property.

“I have an issue with even the small tables. We saw how when there was a small table there, the wheelchair made its way through…never mind if there’s a shopping bag…never mind the server,” Ms. Green-Beach said.

Ms. Barmakian added that she worried allowing the Pawnee House to use Healey Square would set a precedent for other businesses that could further impede foot traffic.

“If we have a precedent that is going to be set, then that means stores that do not serve food can be asking, ‘Can I use the other side of Healey Square? Where can I put my wares out?’” she said.

The second option for outdoor dining would have had tables along the square and on the Kennebec sidewalk. In addition to the question of the potential impact on foot traffic, this option raised legal concerns for the select board.

According to a survey submitted by Mr. Cohen, G and B sales owns about 100 feet of sidewalk along the road.

Mr. Cohen argued that although an agreement had been made in 1993 between the town and then property owner which stated that the owners could not obstruct the sidewalk, such an agreement expires after 30 years due to a law against perpetuities.

In the application submitted to the select board in February, G and B Sales stated that the company would be willing to extend the agreement about the sidewalk in return for being able to use town property for outdoor dining as outlined in their first proposed options.

Four members of the public spoke on the issue, three of whom were in favor of allowing the Pawnee House to have outside dining.

Dawn McKenna lives in Oak Bluffs and used to work for the Lexington Tourism Committee.

“Tourism is an important asset, which I know you all agree and support,” Ms. McKenna told the board. “Anything this board can do on a big picture basis to help is great.”

She added that, as a former wheelchair user, she is not concerned about a potential lack of space in Healey Square if outside dining was allowed.

Lynn Vera, who is an abutter, and Billie Jean Sullivan, the executive director of the Oak Bluffs Association, also spoke in favor of outdoor dining.

Maura McGroarty spoke against allowing the restaurant to use outdoor property that would impede pedestrians.

“I think you’re at the top of a very slippery slope,” she told the select board. “Other businesses may do the same thing.”