Hearings are set for next week in Dukes County superior court in the intensifying legal dispute between the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission and Dukes County Commission. A judge will decide whether the airport commission can be expanded.
Determined to populate the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission with fresh faces, the Dukes County Commission this week voted to expand the airport commission from seven to nine members. The next day, the airport commission went to court to block the move.
The Dukes County Commission voted to appoint Beth Toomey of West Tisbury to the seven-member airport commission. The county commission chose from an unusually large group of applicants, with eight people applying for the single spot.
The airport commission is appointed by the Dukes County Commission, which is scheduled to vote next week to fill the vacancy left by Peter Bettencourt who resigned in August. The new appointment comes amid ongoing conflicts between the two commissions.
The Hon. Richard Chin said in a written opinion that the county manager may not serve as an ex officio nonvoting member of the airport commission, and that the county treasurer may not refuse to pay airport legal bills. The ruling clears the way for the case to go to trial.
A superior court judge heard arguments Tuesday afternoon on both sides of a dispute between the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission and the county. The hearing saw spirited debate about the legal independence of the airport, and also whether the dispute belonged in court in the first place.
The Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission is working on new bylaws and an employee handbook to better codify how business is done at the Island airport. The county manager has urged the commission to make the process more open and public.