The Martha’s Vineyard Commission Thursday approved changes to a 22-year-old decision regarding a Chappaquiddick subdivision, removing an obtacle to possible relocation of the Schifter house.
In 1990, the MVC approved O. Stevens Leland Jr. and Timothy Leland’s application to divide a 27-acre parcel of land adjacent to Poucha Pond into a four-lot subdivision.
One lot was deeded to O. Stevens Leland, who built a house there in 2001.
Two conditions were placed on the land as part of MVC approval: the applicant was ordered to establish a surface water testing program to monitor Poucha Pond. The applicant or a homeowner’s association was ordered to pay for the testing costs, with the testing designed to protect shellfish.
Another condition called for the installation of a monitoring well at the location, with specifications provided by the Board of Health.
In October of this year, William Abendroth, an attorney representing O. Stevens Leland Jr., said in a letter to the MVC that Mr. Stevens had entered into a purchase and sale agreement for one of his lots with Richard and Jennifer Schifter, who own an adjacent plot of land.
The Schifters’ home has been threatened by a steadily eroding bluff, and there have been discussions about moving the home to the Leland property.
Mr. Abendroth said that the sale was to close on Dec. 1., but the closing could not proceed because the two conditions stipulated by the MVC had not been met.
Mr. Abendroth said Mr. Leland is an octogenarian who divides his time between Brookline, Arizona and the Chappaquiddick home. He said that the house has a title V system, and the water monitoring system never happened partly because 11 years went by between the decision and the time the house was built, and “it just honestly wasn’t on his radar screen that he had the affirmative responsibility to establish a water monitoring program.”
Mr. Abendroth said he was hoping to complete the sale before the new year to avoid increased taxes, and was trying to find a way to modify the decision to allow the sale to go forward.
In a Dec. 13 letter to the commission, the chairman of the Edgartown Marine Advisory Committee said the board recommended that the Lelands be required to establish an escrow account for the purpose of monitoring the water quality at Cape Pogue Pond and Poucha Pond.
Edgartown health agent Matthew Poole said that the installation of a groundwater monitoring well “is not highly valuable to the board of health at this time,” and the board of health was not opposed to revoking that requirement.
The commission debated what an appropriate payment might be, or whether penalties should be levied.
Commissioner Doug Sederholm proposed modifying the decision by requiring the applicant to set aside $100,000 from the sale proceeds at closing to be held by the applicant’s attorney, pending further direction from the commission regarding the scope of testing and monitoring to be done. The commission approved the motion.