Oak Bluffs selectmen unanimously approved an application to alter the premises over Danny Quinn’s Pub, allowing Mark Wallace to move forward with plans to create a banquet hall facility that could accommodate large events such as weddings, dances and balls.

Selectmen agreed to sign off on an application that will be sent to the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission (ABCC). Under state law any establishment that serves alcohol is required to make an application to the ABCC any time they make substantive changes to the premises.

Mr. Wallace plans to build a banquet hall that could accommodate large gatherings ranging from weddings to school dances. There would be a bar area where alcohol could be served when functions requested that.

The large open area was most recently used for the Game Room and was previously used as a skating rink, auto garage, and a dance studio.

Although selectmen unanimously approved the application to alter the premises, they stipulated they did not have the authority to give final approval to the plans. Because the entire building was reviewed by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission as a development of regional impact (DRI), it may need to referred back to the commission as a modification for use.

Mr. Wallace argued that since he wasn’t changing the use of the building it did not need to be referred back to the commission. “Remember I’m not [creating] a new building here. This is using a space that is already there. I think I am within my rights,” he said.

Mr. Wallace argued that the banquet hall would bring people into town and provide a boost to business.

“I see this as a shot in the arm for the town . . . the reality is that our town only has 11 acres of commercial space out of 4,000 acres. We don’t have space like the State Road corridor, but still we are the hub of entertainment [for the Island]; this is something the town needs,” he said.

But selectman Kerry Scott said her research indicated the project did need to be referred to the commission. “I called the [commission] to make sure, and it does need to be referred. Once a DRI, always a DRI,” she said.

The other selectmen did not voice an opinion on whether the project should be referred to the commission, but did express support for the concept of the function hall.

“I think this is a good thing for Oak Bluffs. I am so sick and tired of seeing vacant buildings in our business district. It’s bad enough to have to see them in the winter, but another to see them in the summertime not being used. I think it detracts from this town,” selectman Ron DiOrio said.

Several people in the audience raised concerns about the proposal.

Kate Young, co-owner of Surfside Motel, said she worried noise from the banquet hall would upset her guests.

“Some of the rooms are only 18 inches away from that building . . . we don’t want people saying ‘I can’t sleep, I have bass in my ear,’” she said.

Adam Cummings, owner of the Lampost nightclub on Circuit avenue, said he worried the function hall might be sold in the future and converted into a full nightclub.

“I have to work at the worst case scenario. If you have a full liquor license and a full entertainment license, and if that is transferred to someone else, you have a nightclub,” he said. “On a selfish level that concerns me because there is only so much business to go around,” he said.

But Mr. DiOrio, who is co-owner of Craftworks on Circuit avenue, disagreed.

“If I were to use that logic then I should be voting no on any gift shop that wants come to the town. I think competition is healthy. I think it adds to the mix. I don’t see it as how do I keep my piece of the pie, but how can we make the pie bigger,” he said.

Chairman Gregory Coogan initially suggested that selectmen wait before voting on the application because it was unclear whether the project should be referred to the commission. “I’m a little weary of doing something and not doing it right,” he said.

But after a brief discussion, selectmen agreed to have town administrator Michael Dutton contact the commission to find out if the project needed to go back to the commission.

Ms. Scott said she felt the referral was necessary. “I am going to hope, Mark, that you get yourself to the [commission] as quickly as possible, so we can get that process under way and we can talk about parking, talk about lighting, talk about noise and talk about protecting the residents,” she said.