In a gesture of disapproval aimed at business owner Elio Silva, Tisbury’s select board has unanimously denied Vineyard Grocer’s application for a common victuallers’ license, needed to legitimize the store’s longstanding prepared food operation.
“This is one way to prove a point,” board member Larry Gomez said. The board stopped short of ordering a shutdown of food preparation at the State Road market.
Town officials first notified Mr. Silva two years ago that the license was required, town administrator Jay Grande said at Tuesday’s meeting.
The business applied for the license this year, Mr. Grande said, and after a series of delays has recently finished the installation and inspection of a fire safety system, completing all the requirements to be licensed.
Mr. Silva was not present or represented at Tuesday evening’s online hearing on his license application.
“I’m appalled,” board member Jeff Kristal said. “It’s taken two years . . . There’s no excuse for it.”
The next time an applicant seeks to license a business that is already operating without town approval, Mr. Kristal said, he will do more than vote no.
“I will try to persuade the board to close the business down,” he said.
“We gave them two years to straighten out a fire safety issue,” Mr. Kristal continued. “It’s just unfathomable.”
Board member Larry Gomez and chairman Jimmy Rogers added their disapproval.
“It’s not fair to the other establishments that are following the rules and regulations of Tisbury,” Mr. Gomez said.
“I think we had a case here of the tail wagging the dog,” Mr. Rogers said.
Mr. Silva has the right to appeal the license denial, Mr. Rogers said after the vote.
Noah Mayrand’s application for an aquaculture grant in Lake Tashmoo, approved by selectmen earlier this year, has gotten a thumbs-down from the state after divers from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries found eelgrass in part of Mr. Mayrand’s proposed site, shellfish constable Danielle Ewart told the board.
“The area also had a lot of transient boaters, and the state noticed that,” Ms. Ewart said. “He would not be able to sell any products for the months they were there.”
Mr. Mayrand will need to reapply with new coordinates, Ms. Ewart said, adding that she is willing to work with him on the new application.
Board members suggested that Mr. Mayrand include an underwater survey as part of his application this time, with Mr. Rogers suggesting the town make it a requirement for aquaculture applicants.
“We should add to the regulations that you have to either dive yourself or hire a local diver to survey your site before we approve it for submittal to the state,” he said.
Ms. Ewart said the state divers also surveyed the potential Lagoon Pond site of an aquaculture grant the town conditionally approved for Jeffrey Canha, even though the final coordinates have not been submitted.
“They looked at the site between the buoys, even though they shouldn’t have because they haven’t received the proper paperwork,” she told board members. “They’re looking for the coordinates from you.”
The delay in finalizing Mr. Canha’s coordinates has been due to an objection earlier this year from David Forbes, the owner of nearby property that includes a dock. Harbor master John Crocker said he had attempted to broker a compromise between the two parties, but that communications had ended.
“Mr. Forbes has no riparian rights. He’s asking for something that is arbitrary and capricious,” Mr. Canha told the board Tuesday.
“It’s been nine months now . . . I’m $10,000 into this and I don’t know why there’s been nothing but pushback [from town officials],” he said.
“Jeff, I totally understand your frustration,” Mr. Rogers said. “That’s too long for any applicant, or anything, in the town of Tisbury to wait. I guarantee I’m going to push as hard as I can [for a resolution].”
In other business Tuesday, selectmen heard from Mr. Crocker that two derelict boats of unknown ownership, a Sunfish and a dinghy, have been removed from Lake Tashmoo. The owner of a third, larger vessel sinking in the lake has been notified that it must be removed, Mr. Crocker said.
Public works director Kirk Metell told the board that sales of waste disposal stickers for the local drop-off have been booming since the 2021 fiscal year began July 1.
“We’ve already sold 900 stickers,” he said. The town averages 800 to 1,000 stickers annually, Mr. Metell added.
“We are right on track to be selling close to 1,000 or maybe more this year,” he said.
Tisbury work crews have been busy repairing sidewalks, resurfacing pavement, clearing brush from roadsides and street signs and making long-needed repairs around town, he also said.
The town also has added 670 feet of long-planned gravel pathway to Oak Grove Cemetery, he added. “It really helps define the area and really helps us selling property,” he said.
Board members agreed to have Mr. Grande send a letter of appreciation to the public works staff.
Also Tuesday, the board discussed sewering, wastewater and marine pump-out issues and heard a brief report from Environmental Partners, the firm working on Tisbury’s comprehensive wastewater plan.
The began as a joint meeting with the town finance and advisory committee to interview candidates for three short-term vacancies on the committee.
Four residents have applied for the three seats, which are up for election in April: Dan Seidman, a former longtime member of the planning board, India Rose, a business consultant whose mother is on the finance committee, Kelley Metell, a teacher who is married to DPW director Kirk Metell, and Allan Rogers, a part-time bus driver for the Vineyard Transit Authority.
A vote on the appointments is planned for August 25.