The Tisbury board of selectmen took the first step this week toward regulating activity in Vineyard Haven harbor by placing a proposal on the table to nominate the waterway as a District of Critical Planning Concern (DCPC).

If the plan moves forward, much of the harbor could be designated by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission as a resource to be protected, beginning a process of establishing development guidelines for the area.

“The MVC is the vehicle,” said selectman Tristan R. Israel. “This gives the town the ability to assess what we’re doing down there. Now, ferries and things are coming to Tisbury and we have no say whatsoever. This would give us the ability to look at the whole deal.”

Last summer, the waterfront played host to an influx of floating business ventures, ranging from a New York seaplane service to the high-speed passenger ferry Sassacus out of Connecticut. Town officials have since expressed concern that Tisbury lacks methods to govern this kind of growth.

“There are a lot of things going on in the harbor,” Mr. Israel said. “I’m not placing a value judgment on the Sassacus, but it comes from out-of-state and was put upon the town. The community should have a vehicle to place a value judgment on it. This is a beneficial chance for the community to take a look at what’s going on.”

“I don’t want a regulatory board outside of Tisbury controlling what we can do in our harbor,” cautioned newly elected selectman Thomas W. Pachico.

That would not be the case, said chairman Edmund G. Coogan, as town boards are responsible both for drafting new regulations and for enforcing them.

With preservation guidelines in place, many activities on the harbor would have to be reviewed before taking place, giving the town its missing mechanism for control.

“The DCPC is only at the water’s edge, and does not encompass properties,” noted executive secretary Peter Fohlin. “If a wealthy auto dealer were to buy a couple residential properties and build a large house with a lot of illumination, would the town wish it had included those properties in the DCPC?”

“That’s not what I’m envisioning,” Mr. Israel replied. As proposed, the DCPC would extend from the stone jetty on the western side of the harbor to a point near Eastville beach, extending inland only to the low-water mark.

If the board votes to approve the nomination, the proposal goes to an MVC public hearing where residents may voice opinions on the plan. Based on reaction at the hearing, the commission decides whether to accept the nomination and continue the regulatory process.