Land Use Decision Making on Marthas Vineyard

Sunday, August 1, 2004

CBI's report, Land Use Decision Making on Marthas Vineyard, examines how the principles of mediation can be applied practically to local land use decision-making. The report focuses on Martha's Vineyard, an island off the coast of Cape Cod (Massachusetts), chosen for its geographical distinction, manageable size, development pressures, multiple towns with home rule, and, for greater interest and complexity, a regional overlay, with the Martha's Vineyard Commission.

With the help of the Martha's Vineyard Mediation Program — following a one-day Mutual Gains Appraoch to negotiation training by CBI for island public officials — participants and other officials worked collectively with CBI on thinking about how to encourage collaborative problem solving and mutual gains negotiations in land use planning and decision-making processes and identify what individual, regulatory, institutional and other barriers exist.

This report is based on twelve, one and one-half to 2 hour interviews that CBI conducted with board members, board staff, developers, and others, as well as research into state and local land use laws and regulations, and review of publications from the Commission and more.

The interviews provided CBI a rich view of the on-the-ground island experience with land use decision-making and we are grateful for the generous time shared with CBI staff. All interviews notes are confidential and interviewee comments are captured without attribution by name or organization. All errors and omissions are the sole responsibility of CBI.

This report was conducted voluntarily and independently, with the generous report of the Lincoln Institute for Land Use Policy. The Martha’s Vineyard Mediation Program also provided support, sponsoring the original one-day mutual gains negotiation training, introducing us to local officials, arranging interviews, and reviewing drafts of this report.

The report includes the following sections:

Change on Martha’s Vineyard

  • Historical perspective
  • New challenges and opportunities

Planning and Negotiation Challenges

  • How current planning works
  • Role of the Martha's Vineyard Commission
  • Key findings

Mutual Gains Negotiation in the Vineyard Context

  • Mutual Gains overview
  • Comparative Process Map – planning and negotiation
  • Opportunities and Obstacles on the Vineyard

Building Capacity

  • Improving facilitation and meeting management
  • Building local land use planning knowledge
  • New roles and responsibilities