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Vineyard Gazette
Edgartown, Massachusetts
September 17, 2010     Vineyard Gazette
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September 17, 2010

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TWO VINEYARD GAZETFE, MARTHA'S VINEYARD, MASS. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2010 Lawyer: No Breach at Cr )w Hollow By MIKE SECCOMBE The new owner of Crow Hollow farm in West Tisbury has cleared trees, bulldozed soil, imported thousands of tons of landscaping materials and up- set neighbors, but he has not breached an agricultural preservation restriction (APR) on the property, according to legal advice received by the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank. The land bank sought the advice late last month, after concerns were expressed to the board about, potential damage to the agricultural future of the farm from the massive earthworks being carried out by its new owner, Ste- yen Rattner, a New York city financier and longtime seasonal resident of West Tisbury. The land bank had previously paid some $400,000 to the former owners, the Look family, for the APR, as a means of protecting the land from potential sub- division. Until recently, when Mr. Ratt- ner bought it for $2.3 million, Samantha Look ran the property as a horse farm, stables and riding school. Mr. Rattner also intends to have horses on the property, although not apparently on the same commercial basis as Ms. Look. Or in the same bucolic surroundings. Over recent weeks a large area that was formerly a naturally-contoured and vegetated paddock had been flattened and resodded with jewel-green turf. Trees and other vegetation have been cut down and a formerly sandy riding ring has been enlarged to 120 by 200 feet, reoriented from east-west to north- south, and resuffaced with imported crushed rock, gravel and sand. New fences and irrigation and drainage lines are being put in. All the work, according to Mr. Ratt- ner's lawyers, is consistent with the terms of the APR. But a bare majority of the land bank commissioners as well as several neighbors, questioned whether this equestrian showpiece amounted to agriculture. At a meeting of the land bank board on August 23, a motion was made to refer the issue to counsel, but dead- locked 3 to 3. Subsequently the seventh member, CarlOs Montoya of Aquinnah, was consulted and opted to have the issue referred to legal counsel. At the following week's meeting, several neighbors and others expressed opposition. Jay McGurren and Gary Montrowl were concerned about a view ease- ment, currently impeded by some of the work, including stadium jumps. They questioned assurances that the views would be restored after the project was MR. RATrNER'S NEW, LARGER RIDING RING. complete. Mr. Montrowl also was concerned about the upkeep of an ancient way which runs through the property. Prudy Burt, a neighbor and also mem- ber of the West Tisbury conservation commission, declared the work being done on the property amounted to a "massive alteration" of the land. She said some 2,500 tons of material had been trucked in, and claimed three and a half to four acres of the property now had been"altered forever in such a way as to preclude agricultural activity." Ms. Burt questioned whether a horse farm even amounted to agriculture, par- ticularly as it was not now being run for any commercial purpose. "The idea of a millionaire being able to buy into an APR-protected piece of land and then use it for his private recreational use, while enjoying the tax benefits ... I do find a little offensive," she said. Tara Whiting, a member of the conser- vation commission who also was speak- ing as a town resident, said she was frustrated that the land bank had not been more "proactive" in monitoring what the Rattners, whom she said had a "long history" of violations, were doing with the farm. Land bank executive director James Lengyel replied that it had been moni- toring the work, but the cutting of vege- tation of what was intended as farmland was not a breach of the APR. Land Bank Revenues Mark Lovewell The Martha's Vineyard Land Bank reported revenues of $222,281.98 for the business week ending on Friday, Sept. 10, 2010. The land bank receives its funds from a two per cent fee charged on many Vineyard real estate transactions. Much of the land bank revenue last week came from the town of Chil- mark, where two transactions resulted in $161,850. In Edgartown, six eligible transactions yielded $47,690. Three transactions in Tisbury were subject to the fee, bringing in $12,741.98 in revenue. No eligible transactions were recorded in Aquinnah, Oak Bluffs or West Tisbury. The land bank uses its revenues to purchase and manage land for purposes of conservation, preservation and passive recreation.To date the agency has participated in the purchase of more than 2,985 acres of Vineyard land. And so an opinion was sought from special counsel Eric Wodlinger, itemiz- ing the concerns raised. The reply bore out Mr. Lengyel's opinion. Mr.Wodlinger said one of the express purposes of the APR was the "protec- tion, preservation and use of agricultural lands, which shall include the boarding and training of horses and horse riding lessons." As to the claim by Ms. Burt that 2,500 tons of material had been brought in to create or improve riding facilities, the APR permitted the placing of soil or other material in connection with the agricultural use of the land: "Agriculture has a broad definition in Massachusetts and in the context of the amended APR most certainly includes the boarding, raising and training of horses. Such activity is permitted in all areas of the premises. Thus importation and placement of stone dust, gravel, etc., as part of the layout of a riding ring is permitted." Mr. Wodlinger also noted that even uses prohibited under the agreement on the rest of the 19.8-acre property were excepted within the two-acre building envelope, where most of the work was being performed. And the clearing of trees outside that building envelope also was permissible, because the "clearing of woodlands for conversion to agricultural fields or pas- tures" was a permitted exception. Were any buildings or structures to be constructed outside the envelope, however, the land bank had a right to approve their siting "with the objective of consolidating, rather than dispersing, such improvements." But that was not the case. And even if the stadium jumps re- mained within the view easement, it was arguable that they were permissible. As to fencing, the landowner could not be governed by the land bank un- less they impinged on the view ease- ment. Then the land bank could deter- mine if they were detrimental to the view. In short, as much as people might prefer the old, pastoral Crow Hollow to the new manicured one, there was nothing they could do about it. 30% OFF HYDRANGEAS art/I E-D.E.N II Market & Garden Center ........ 3i,76ffh ..... ', LIGHTHOUSE BOX i $26.95 i 5 Slices Fudge i or $25.95 i Combo Brittle & Fudge i SAVE TIME...ORDER ONLINE! 888-55 FUDGE EDGARTOWN OAK BLUFFS VINEYARD HAVEN Using ! Adventure" Exploration" Tranquility SALE NEW. KAYAKS. USED SWIM SUITS " SUMMER CLOTHING . SUNGLASSES SHORTY WETSUITS RASH GUARDS SNORKEL GEAR 199 Beach Road Vineyard Haven 508-693-4252 Wed-Sat, 10-5:30 Sun 12-4. Closed Mon & Tues Home Surveillance Footage Lea ts To Longtime Peeping Tom's Arrest By MIKE SECCOMBE Oak Bluffs police believe they have cleared up hundreds of peeping Tom incidents in the town stretching back over six or eight years, as well as two breaking and entering cases involving assaults on women, with the arrest of a man last Friday. Irton A. DeSouza, 35, of Oak Bluffs, was arrested around 1:30 a.m. after being tracked down with the help of video footage recorded on a surveil- lance system set up by an Oak Bluffs homeowner, which captured him look- ing into windows. With the help of the video and the homeowner, police were able to identify the suspect and his house. After he had been brought in and confronted with the video evidence, according to police, Mr. DeSouza admitted a long history of peeping and going into two homes to assault women. He also admitted to being in the country illegally. "In the two breaking and entering cases DeSouza admitted.., that he entered the homes through unlocked doors and groped women who were sleeping in their bedrooms," the police report of the arrest reads. "DeSouza also admitted that he has been looking into homes for at least the last six or eight years and goes out at least four nights a week to look into the windows of unsuspecting females," it says. The Oak Bluffs peeper had proven extraordinarily elusive over the years, said Oak Bluffs police Lieut. Timothy Williamson. "He had the cover of darkness, obvi- ously, but mostly he was just fast. He was pursued several times, by home- owners as well police officers, and was able to elude us and them. He was fast and crafty and sneaky." Even on the night of his arrest, he had previously been pursued on foot by a police officer, but had gotten away. "Without the help of the community, specifically the citizen who set up the home surveillance system, we would most likely still be chasing a ghost," Lieutenant Williamson said. Over recent months the effort to catch the man had been stepped up, as his behavior grew more dangerous. In July he crawled into bed with one woman, then fled, taking a wallet, when she screamed. In August he touched the leg of a young woman as she lay on her bed. The effort included dogs from the Barnstable County sheriff's depart- ment and the state police. The Plym- outh County sheriffs department had been called in to generate a composite sketch of the offender, based on a de- scriptio/a by one of te women he had assaulted. But it was the video which made the breakthrough. The peeper was caught twice in a short period, so police con- centrated their personnel nearby. After he was recorded for the second time on the night of the arrest, he was chased, but got away. However, police were able to trace him to a house nearby, and recognized him from the video. Sgt. Michael Marchand and Det. Nick CureUi took him in for question- ing. In his report, Lieutenant Williamson said Sergeant Marchand and Detective Curelli did an "outstanding job with the interview and interrogation, which ultimately led to DeSouza. making a lengthy 90-minute confession." A fingerprint check at the jail re- vealed he was the subject of an Im- migration and Customs Enforcement detainer. DeSouza appeared in Edgartown district court on Friday on nine charges including assault and battery, indecent assault and battery, two of breaking and entering, larceny, open and gross lewdness, lewd, wanton and lascivious behavior, intimidation of a witness and disorderly conduct. He entered a not guilty plea. His attorney sought bail of $2,500. The rosecuting district attorney sought 5,000. But Associate Justice Lance Garth set bail at $60,000, on the basis that he could not be certain of the de- fendant's true identity. As of yesterday, Mr. DeSouza re- mained in the Edgartown house of correction, Lieutenant Williamson said. He is due to appear again in court on Oct. 1. Motorcycle Crash Injures Two, One Quite Seriously A Vineyard Haven man was seri- ously injured when he struck a fellow motorcyclist near the Airport Mobil Station Monday night and was airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment. Edgartown police said according to one witness at the scene, Peter Valach, 24, was traveling at 120 miles per hour when he hit Ryan Willoughby, 20, also from Vineyard Haven. Mr. Valach was ejected from his motorcycle and found 575 feet away from the impact site; his motorcycle hit a tree and split it in two. Both men were initially transported and treated at Martha's Vineyard Hospital. Mr. Willoughby was treated for a hand injury and Mr. Valach was flown to Boston. A spokesman for Mas- sachusetts General Hospital said on Wednesday thatMr.Valach was in good condition. Edgartown police were dispatched to the scene at 6:40 p.m. Monday, closing Barnes Road to traffic for two hours during 'accident scene reconstruction. According to a police report, Mr. Wil- loughby pulled off to the side of the road to turn around when Mr. Valach collided with him. Both motorcycles were totalled. The accident is under in- vestigation, and Edgartown police Sgt. Ken Johnson said charges are expected to be filed. Mink MINK MEADOWS GOLF CLUB IS ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR MEMBERSHIP Our facility is one of the best-kept secrets on the Vineyard. We have affordable initiation fees, membership dues and payment plans. Our membership is a diverse group of year-round and seasonal residents who enjoy a friendly and relaxed golf experience. Call us anytime for a tour of our new clubhouse and exceptional golf course. MMGC has immediate full membership openings. FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO RECEIVE AN APPLICATION PLEASE CALL: 508-693-0600 www. 00alking toura Crmd by Holly Na&r, author of Supwnmral" & "Hauntml Island" NO RESERVATIONS NECESSARY lO/pBrson, 5 kids 8 & under, babies free ata and n'avc,ard of ncvard Fxtven 44 Main Slmt Beetlebung Corner Chilmark 508-645-3533 UP ISLAND BEACH RETREAT On a knoll amidst the Abel's Hill Association with a peek of the Atlantic Ocean get the best of the Chilmark experience with this three bedroom beautifully renovated home. Purchase of Abel's Hill membership includes ocean beach owner- ship, access to private tennis courts and private parking for a walk-on to the best beach on the island. Plenty of options to consider with 3 detached outbuildings and 3 acres of meadowland. Exclusive. $1,350,000. Superintendent Seeks New Headquarters By REMY TUMIN Vineyard Schools superintendent Dr. James H. Weiss hopes to move his office from its current location in Vineyard Ha- ven to the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School by the year 2014. The plan, discussed by the building subcommittee of the regional high school district committee on Monday night, would include the sale of the superinten- dent's building on Pine street in Vineyard Haven adjacent to the Tisbury School, with the proceeds applied toward build- ing some kind of annex for office space at the high school campus. The space could also house the Rebecca Amos Institute, an alternative learning program, and possibly even a facility for MVTV, Mk. Weiss said. An early-stage plan last year to relo- cate the superintendent's office to the old Edgartown School has been scrapped be- cause Edgartown is now again exploring the possibility of converting the space to a new library facility. An act of the state legislature, required for the school district to sell the superintendent's building, has been p.assed, so the property may now be put on the market. But that leaves the problem of where to relocate. "I've looked around the Island, talked to some realtors and there really isn't anything that we could move to that would meet our needs without an awful lot of work," Mr. Weiss told subcommit- tee members on Monday night. "It leaves us, I believe, with only one possibility to solve this problem... This is a long process, I believe we need to start the process now." He said the building was appraised nearly three years ago at $600,000, but a new appraisal may be needed. There is some concern that it may not pass a septic inspection.There are 20 people who work in the building, and another 20 who use it in association with contracted education services such as speech therapy. The cur- rent building is not accessible for people with handicaps, a source of concern for at least one committee member. "We owe it to the individuals at the superintendent's office and the families who use it for private consultation," said Leslie Baynes. Mr. Baynes encouraged MVTV to have internship opportuni- ties for high school students if they were involved in the new facility. Mr. Weiss said he wbuld create a plan and timeline for the building committee to examine at their next meeting. At the regular high school district committee meeting that followed, the first meeting of the new school year, there were good reports from opening day. "While every day can be a challenge, it was a very good opening of school," Mr. Weiss told committee member "There are lots of kids and lots of classrooms doing good things." Student representative Rachel Perez listed this year's student council's goals, which included increasing senior privi- leges, increasing school spirit, creating a new mascot and more discussion about student athlete tardy policies. A senior lounge, school spirit store and the option to sleep in on Mondays until 9 a.m. once a month were new items proposed to the committee. "You have a lot of data to make a good case," Mr. Baynes said, drawing smiles, in response to the sleeping-in idea. "Welcome aboard." High school principal Stephen Nixon announced a plan to feature monthly student spotlights at future committee meetings where students nominated by parents, faculty and staff will come before the board to discuss their achievements. Last year, Mr. Nixon had different de- partments give presentations. Mr. Nixon announced the high school had received the 2010 sportsmanship award for district D for outstanding manners on and off the field. Mr.Weiss also received a thank-you ,note from the Blackstone Valley Techni- cal High School football coach, thanking .the Vineyarders for. their hospitality dur- ing a preseason scrimmage. Personnel changes this year include Matthew Malowski and Andrew Berry moving into interim assistant principal posts Longtime special education teacher Arthur Cormier will retire after serving Island students for 33 years; computer science teacher Jeff Bemier and social studies teacher Wendy Biddle will also retire. There are 1"2 new faculty positions this year. School finance manager Mark Fried- man reported the 2010 fiscal year, which ended June 30, stayed on budget. Budget discussions for 2012 begin next month. The coming year will include a new con- tract for food services at the high school. The current provider is Chartwells Perhaps reflecting the national trend, committee members indicated that healthy eating for young people is on their minds. "Food service is very important and obesity is an epidemic," Mr. Baynes said, adding: "Maybe we need to spend more money on making menus better. I really hope we're looking at that."  Ve deeply thank all who expressed their support and ,,  pathy at the loss of our loving Deanna Perry Hamilton. .. ; , 6, our memories with her. .. R ay and Brad Thank you for your votes * Best Bait and Tackle Shop * Capturing the Character of the Island 2000-2010 Share our Island Experience Beach & Boat Charters Tackle Bait Rentals 147 West Tisbury Road, Edgartown 508-627-3909 OCEAN PARK REALTY, INC. Box 182, 69 Circuit Ave, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557 508-693-4210 e.mail address: CAPE WITH IN-LAW APARTMENT Located in a quiet residential setting this versatile property has more to offer than meets the eye. 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