MVC approves addition to Tisbury Marketplace


With little discussion, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) on Thursday unanimously approved a proposed addition to the Tisbury Marketplace on State Road in Vineyard Haven.

The commissioners approved the project without adding conditions. Marketplace developer and applicant Reid “Sam” Dunn beat them to it with offers that appeared to satisfy the commission.

In a letter to the MVC dated October 5, Mr. Dunn said he would honor all the offers he’d made if the MVC approved his project under review as a development of regional impact (DRI).

The offers included a $3,700 donation to Habitat for Humanity for affordable housing, no short-term apartment rentals for less than one month, no new parking, and no new signage. Mr. Dunn also relinquished development rights to two parcels, except for boat mooring facilities and access.

“Sam changed his plan to a piling system, which is going to be a model for other plans that are going to be coming before us and in front of conservation commissions across the Island,” MVC commissioner John Breckenridge of Oak Bluffs said, in discussion before the commission’s vote. “And I just want to compliment you on that. You heard, you listened, you realized you could still maintain energy efficiency, and most importantly, in an environmentally sensitive area, you’ve come up with a right-on solution, so thank you.”

The approval was the conclusion of a DRI application process that began on September 17, 2009. Throughout the hearing process, Mr. Dunn stressed his rights to develop property zoned for business use and his willingness to satisfy the MVC’s concerns.

In its analysis of benefits and detriments, the MVC identified an eight-tenths of one percent increase in summer traffic, the addition of a structure on an outer wetland buffer, and a need for 12 new parking spaces, in addition to the existing 133 spaces.

The benefits included maintaining the “semi-public lawn area that overlooks Lagoon Pond” and five new businesses that will provide jobs and tax revenue.

The struggle to find a balance between development of a commercially zoned property versus no development or limited development underpinned the discussion throughout the process.

Mr. Dunn had applied for a permit to build a two-story building totaling 7,050 square feet, since scaled back to 5,700 square feet, on a grassy parcel overlooking Lagoon Pond, perpendicular to the building that now faces Beach Road. The building would occupy a 3,780 square-foot footprint and include office and retail space, including one marine-related business and an apartment.

Tisbury’s waterfront commercial district is divided into two zoning districts: the waterside management area, which includes any land inside 100 feet of the high water mark along Lagoon Pond or the harbor, and the commercial management area beyond it.

Boatyards and other marine-related facilities and businesses are allowed in the waterside management area, as are apartments. Additional uses, such as restaurants, offices and retail stores, are allowed in the commercial management area.

At a meeting on April 29, the third for the project, members stalled on the topics of summer traffic counts and parking spaces at a continued public hearing.

In an effort to end the gridlock, Mr. Dunn proposed that the hearing be continued in order to get an accurate summer traffic count. The commissioners agreed to continue the public hearing to July.

The Marketplace’s spaces have been individually purchased as condominiums through an association formed in 1989. Mr. Dunn retained development rights for three areas for possible future expansion, including the site for the proposed new building. One was already used for the expansion of Saltwater Restaurant, which Mr. Dunn owns.

The project was referred as a DRI by the Tisbury conservation commission (ConCom), since the building site falls within 100 feet of wetlands and in the 100-year flood zone, both in the ConCom’s jurisdiction.

After the meeting, Mr. Dunn told The Times, “This process made my project better.”