A recent lawsuit filed by Chappaquiddick seasonal residents John Bretl and Jennifer Kumpitch Bretl seeks to call the Edgartown zoning board’s bluff.

In a lawsuit filed in the state Land Court in December, the couple is challenging a board ruling that upheld the Edgartown building inspector’s determination that a bluff does indeed exist on the Bretls’ 6 Armstrong Lane property, blocking their hopes of building a home there.

According to the town’s zoning bylaws, a bluff is land adjacent to a beach or coastal wetlands which, due to erosion, has a downward slope steeper than the “otherwise natural slope of land.” Whether or not the property has a bluff is critical to determining the buildable area of a property, since bluffs extend the non-buildable shore zone by 100 feet.

The Bretls contend there is no bluff on their property. The lawsuit includes a photo of the area in question with heavy vegetation, something the Bretls point to as evidence that it isn’t a victim of erosion.

The lawsuit also claims that the couple had engaged an environmental consultant to conduct an independent land analysis and they found no bluffs on the property. By contrast, the Bretls allege that the building inspector made their designation without conducting any site visit on the property.

In the absence of a proper site visit, the suit seeks to overturn the building inspector’s decision so the couple can continue plans to rebuild their house on the property.

“When a zoning decision ‘contains conclusions that do nothing more than repeat regulatory phrases, and are unsupported by any facts in the record, [the court is] constrained to conclude that the decision is ‘unreasonable, whimsical, capricious or arbitrary,’ and therefore invalid,” the lawsuit read, citing case law.

The owners had previously filed an appeal with the Edgartown zoning board to reconsider the determination, which was unanimously denied in November.

The Bretls’ lawsuit was filed against the zoning board and is appealing that ruling. A status conference for the case is scheduled for May.

The Edgartown select board held an executive session this week to discuss strategy for the ongoing lawsuit. Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty and the Bretls’ attorney both declined a request for comment.