Three Island towns awake this morning under the umbrella of permit moratoriums following last night’s meeting of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

The commission opened its regular meeting by approving a nomination for a district of critical planning concern in the Vineyard Haven harbor. The vote was unanimous and followed a public hearing which was held prior to the opening of the commission meeting. Only one member of the public was heard in the hearing.

Later in the meeting, the commissioners approved the nominations of building cap DCPCs in West Tisbury and Chilmark. The towns are the first to submit nominations to the commission, but not likely the last. Tisbury is expected to submit its approved nomination in the near future. Edgartown has already opted out of the Island-wide commission effort, having approved its own building cap.

All three DCPC approvals mark the beginning of moratorium periods in the  towns. In Chilmark and West Tisbury, the issuance of building permits will be suspended until regulations are adopted by the commission. In Tisbury, the issuance of development permits in the harbor area will be suspended until the commission adopts specific regulations for the DCPC zone.

During the moratorium, anyone wishing to receive a building or development permit because of special circumstances must submit their request to a special exemption committee appointed by the commission.

Tisbury selectman Tristan Israel opened the harbor DCPC discussion by presenting Tisbury’s case to the commission.

“In the past few years, there has been a lot of pressure put on the harbor,” he said. “There’s been an increase in private freight, private ferries and other things we don’t necessarily have the power to regulate. We came to the commission looking for a way to regulate these uses and have a forum for the community to deal with those issues.”

Edmond Coogan, chairman of the Tisbury selectmen, added to Mr. Israel’s thoughts.

“We have excellent harbor waterfront zoning,” he said. “But I think we’ve taken some of the harbor regulations as far as we can go. The activity in the harbor is changing radically, and that’s what drives us to refer this to you. We need to go further to control the level of activity in the harbor.”

Although the Tisbury DCPC was widely supported by the commission members, some expressed their desire to extend the DCPC zone beyond the boundaries proposed by the Tisbury selectmen.

The proposal presented to the commission set the western boundary of the DCPC at the end of the inner harbor. But commission member Michael Colaneri said he believed the zone should include the outer harbor, extending from West Chop to the Oak Bluffs town line in the outer harbor. In addition to harbor waters, the DCPC extends 100 feet towards shore from the mean water mark in non-residential zones.

“Why not include the entire harbor?” he said. “It seems odd to establish a DCPC in half of the harbor.”

Mr. Coogan said he supported the idea of extending the DCPC zone to the outer harbor, but felt it would be best to work in conjunction with Oak Bluffs rather than setting guidelines for a space that is essentially shared by the two towns.

“I certainly would like to see it go as far as the lighthouse,” said Mr. Coogan. “But I, personally, would like to Oak Bluffs to join us on this before we go ahead with it.”

After a brief discussion among commission members, an amendment proposed by Jane Greene which would have extended the DCPC to the outer harbor was voted down.

“While I like the idea of extending the line, I feel like it would be undermining the process we went through in the town of Tisbury with our residents,” Mr. Israel said.

The commission’s subsequent vote in favor of the DCPC as proposed by the Tisbury selectmen was unanimous.

The approval means that Vineyard Haven harbor is now under a state of moratorium regarding the issuance of all development permits. The moratorium will be lifted following the approval of voter-approved regulations by the commission. Until then, any requests for permits will be reviewed by an exemption committee appointed by the commission.

Later in the meeting, the commission members also approved the nominations of building cap DCPCs in West Tisbury and Chilmark. And after months of discussions and meetings, it took the commission only five minutes to vote in favor of the nominations. The only discussion regarding the DCPCs revolved around the potential site for a public hearing, tentatively set for Dec. 9 in West Tisbury.

Executive director Charles Clifford said West Tisbury has already drafted its proposed regulations and Chilmark is expected to be finished in the near future.

“West Tisbury is done and we’re waiting on Chilmark,” he said. “And then we’ll have the hearing.”