Members of the building community came out in force Thursday night with concerns about the Martha Vineyard Commission’s proposed changes to the DRI checklist, the list that dictates what projects are referred to the regional body. Most of the concerns centered around whether the commission would regulate large houses as developments of regional impact.


As heated debate continues to swirl in Chilmark and beyond over how and whether to regulate very large houses, town planning board leaders said this week they were ready to send a draft bylaw to town counsel for review.


It’s a question that vexes local planning agencies and inflames passions from homeowners builders, and residents on both sides of the issue.

When it comes to houses, how big is too big?

This issue has special resonance on the Vineyard, where land is limited and residents have a history of fiercely protecting — and debating — the Island’s character.


At a crowded public hearing Wednesday, the Chilmark zoning board of appeals heard the first public arguments in a heated dispute between neighbors over a large-house compound that is nearing completion on Nashaquitsa Pond.

Zoia House

The Chilmark planning board this week took up the thorny subject of large houses, their impact on the environment and how to regulate them.

At a special meeting Wednesday afternoon that drew a small crowd, the planning board announced the formation of a large house working group charged with determining whether existing zoning bylaws should be changed to limit house sizes.

Planning board chairman Janet Weidner said it would be the first of many discussions.



There was talk of class warfare and fascism. There were dark forecasts of Martha’s Vineyard as a community polarized between very rich and very poor. There was a crowd. Last Monday’s was not your standard meeting of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission land use planning committee.

But as commission executive director Mark London noted even before it began, there’s something about the subject of big houses which gets people going.