Edgartown may have its new rules of the road for oversand vehicles on Chappaquiddick.  

The town’s conservation commission voted to have staff review draft regulations for The Trustees of Reservations that would cap the number of cars for different properties. The regulations are scheduled to come back to the commission next month potentially for a vote.  

The new proposals come after two years of hearings about the oversand vehicle access on Chappaquiddick, a popular recreation activity managed by the Trustees that has been continuous with neighbors, fishermen and town officials.

The draft regulations proposed no more than 200 oversand vehicles at a time on the Leland and Wasque properties, and no more than 30 on the Cape Pogue trails. Residents and Trustees staff would not be included in the counts.

The conditions would also require the Trustees to come before the conservation commission monthly between May and November to give updates on how things were playing out.

The regular reports would cover monthly vehicle counts, the number and positions of staff on the property, trail conditions, and plans for seasonal events such as holiday weekends and the annual fishing derby. 

Other requirements for fencing of the vehicle corridor and other environmental protections that have previously been in place would remain in the new regulations, as well. 

A ban on issuing oversand vehicle permits to rental vehicles is also being considered. 

Conservation commissioner Geoff Kontje, who helped draft the regulations, felt the rules could increase transparency and help get the public out to Chappaquiddick for fishing season. 

“I think these monthly meetings will make a great difference that will allow us on the commission to stay in touch with what’s going on out there and it will allow some adaptive management on our part,” he said. “We’re going to learn as we go with this.”

Trustees Island portfolio manager Darci Schofield previously said the Trustees was hoping to have a cap of 300 vehicles for the area, but didn’t object at the meeting. Some Chappaquiddick residents felt that number was out of line. 

“I still think 200 is way too high when you consider what is left to drive on that parcel and when you also consider its use,” said Rachel Self of the Leland and Wasque limit. “I think that it’s more appropriate to have a number around 100 vehicles in that section.”

The Trustees split the applications for the Cape Pogue and Leland-Wasque parcels for fear that the Cape Pogue area could be contested in court, potentially endangering oversand vehicle access to all of its trails. 

Ms. Schofield only raised a few minor issues on the draft conditions. 

“I think that was very thoughtfully done,” she said. 

The new rules would not allow oversand vehicles to continue past the Cape Pogue lighthouse, an area that continues to be contested in a court battle between Cape Pogue residents and the Trustees.

Chappaquiddick residents in the past have called on the commission to deny the Trustees’ permits to sell oversand vehicle permits, claiming the organization’s handling of the vehicles has come to the detriment of the area’s delicate barrier dunes and wetlands. Cape Pogue, in particular, has been a flashpoint since the Trustees applied in 2022. 

The Cape Pogue regulations would allow drivers along bayside and oceanside when conditions allowed for it. Neither have been open since December, Ms. Schofield said. 

“But the beach conditions are going to change so we’d be happy to provide a monthly update to the commission on that,” she said. 

The commission is scheduled to consider the proposed regulations at a meeting on May 15.