How Tiny Aquinnah Saved Itself from Overdevelopment

This spring marks the 20th anniversary of the unprecedented nomination of the entire town of Aquinnah as a district of critical planning concern (DCPC).

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Land Agency Backs Town Growth Limits
The Martha’s Vineyard Commission has voted to accept without change an innovative set of regulations developed by the people of Aquinnah to protect their town from the effects of runaway growth.
“This is about preserving a modesty of scale and a lifestyle,” declared Marcia Cini, member of the commission from Tisbury.
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Aquinnah Sets Standard for Sound Planning: Voters Adopt New Laws to Control Growth
Making history and setting a new standard for community planning on the Vineyard, the people of Aquinnah voted this week to adopt a sweeping set of regulations for a townwide district of critical planning concern (DCPC).
“We’re leading the way. There has been a lot of talk about doing an Islandwide DCPC, and I hope this is going to be a first step for that,” said James Vercruysse, an Aquinnah resident who is a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.
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Court Ruling on Impact Fees Has Import for Island Towns
In a ruling that could carry special importance for the town of Aquinnah — as well as for other Vineyard towns that want to adopt impact fees — the Massachusetts Appeals Court this week struck down a school impact fee in the town of Franklin.
The court found that the impact fee, charged to developers, is an improper tax.
“This is so totally contrary to tax philosophy as to require it to be stricken down,” declared Mel Greenberg, an associate justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, who wrote the decision.
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Citing Town as ‘Essence of Island,’ Aquinnah Asks for MVC Protection As Area of Critical Planning Concern
Marking an extraordinary moment in the recent swirl of discussion about growth on the Vineyard, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission accepted a request late last night from the tiny town of Aquinnah to nominate the entire town as a district of critical planning concern (DCPC).
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Alarm of Aquinnah Leadership Leads to Requests for Protection
Yvonne Guzman
Perhaps more than any other Island town, Aquinnah changes with each new house built there.
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Buildout Deadlines: Town of Aquinnah Sets Good Example

At the westernmost tip of the Island just four years ago, the residents of Aquinnah knew the potential for total buildout loomed just ahead in an era of unbridled development.

Over the last decade, the community of 200 year-round residents watched development stretch the seams of the town's 4,056 acres, and they knew that the intensity and nature of new house construction threatened to devastate the rural character of Aquinnah.

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A Tree Cutting Roils Aquinnah

The Aquinnah planning board will seek criminal charges against two
seasonal residents and a local landscape company who topped a large
swath of trees off Lobsterville Road without permission this summer.

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Townwide DCPC in Aquinnah Held Valid by Superior Court
Ian Fein

A Middlesex Superior Court judge last week upheld the validity of a unique townwide planning and zoning district in Aquinnah.

The decision, which was entered on Friday by the Hon. Julian T. Houston, found in favor of the town and the Martha's Vineyard Commission against a developer who is seeking to open access to and subdivide parcels of vacant land off Moshup Trail. The developer, James J. Decoulos, has filed more than 10 different legal challenges against the town, a number of which are still ongoing.

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MVC Approves Aquinnah Energy District
Jim Hickey

The Martha's Vineyard Commission on Monday voted without dissent to designate an energy district critical of planning concern in the town of Aquinnah, the first such district of its kind on the Island.

The town and the commission will now begin the process of drafting special townwide regulations for Aquinnah to promote alternative energy in new construction and establish guidelines for the placement of wind turbines, solar panels and geothermal systems.

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