A former summer visitor to Chilmark plans to appeal a recent Middlesex Superior Court decision which favors the Chilmark selectmen’s right to manage their harbor and essentially keep him from spending more than 14 days a summer at a slip.
Paul DeJesus, an aggrieved owner of a 70-foot Hatteras yacht, told the Gazette yesterday he will appeal the Hon. Dennis J. Curran’s decision.
The judge rejected Mr. DeJesus’s claim that he should have been grandfathered in his right to keep his boat in Menemsha harbor beyond the limit long imposed by the town. In past years, Mr. DeJesus had stayed in the harbor for three weeks.
Last year selectmen, working with the harbor master, chose to continue in limiting how long pleasure boats can stay in the harbor. Their decision was based on stands taken by prior boards to keep the harbor open to more boaters and keep Menemsha a viable commercial fishing village harbor.
In the summer of 2006, Mr. DeJesus came before the board and complained their action was discriminatory against him. He had been a longstanding visitor to the harbor since 1987.
He filed a lawsuit in January of this year, naming the town of Chilmark and selectman J.B. Riggs Parker as defendants. The lawsuit called for injunctive relief, compensatory damages and his attorneys’ fees and costs.
Judge Curran, however, ruled for the town.
Yesterday, Chilmark town counsel Ronald H. Rappaport said, “The decision vindicates the town’s right to adopt reasonable rules to regulate the use of the harbor and keep it open to everyone.”
Mr. DeJesus said: “Our view is that my attorney had a hard time getting his point of view across. We were very disappointed. We are going to appeal. We believe we are right here and we will get it better explained.”
Mr. DeJesus said he and his family chose not to visit Chilmark this summer. “When your reputation has been tarnished, and due to the ongoing lawsuit, my family didn’t feel comfortable there any more,” he said. “I was on the Vineyard this summer but not in Chilmark.”