Martha's Vineyard Commission to reconsider lots-for-cash vote
The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) is scheduled tonight to reconsider its July 24 vote to send a proposed affordable housing lots-for-cash swap to a public hearing.
The Field Club, developers of an exclusive private club and 25-lot subdivision in Katama, offered to pay the Edgartown affordable housing committee $1.8 million instead of donating the three undeveloped lots in their subdivision, as required in the Martha's Vineyard Commission's original permit for the development. The affordable housing committee intended to use the money to buy or supplement the purchase of five or six existing homes for qualifying families.
The commission's land use planning committee agreed unanimously that the modification of the permit was not a significant change and did not require a public hearing, but the full commission rejected that recommendation and voted 6-4 to send the matter to a public hearing.
The Martha's Vineyard Commission's action touched off an emotional debate, including phone calls and letters to the commission.
"While the tradeoff that has been offered for the three affordable lots appears to be fair and may further affordable housing in town, what is wrong with daylighting the issue through public process," wrote Bruce Rosinoff of Edgartown. "Moreover, by not holding a public hearing on a substantial change to a longstanding condition, the Martha's Vineyard Commission is subverting its own process and its credibility. This is a bad precedent and invites a weakening of the commission in the future."
John Abrams, an Island builder who has been involved in affordable housing developments, took a different view.
"Over a long period of time, the Edgartown affordable housing committee has been the Island's most effective, diligent, and progressive, and it truly serves the residents of that town," wrote Mr. Abrams. "This is one of those instances where listening to a highly knowledgeable local committee may serve the regional interest in the very best way."