To the Editors:
For more than 10 years, the Vineyard Conservation Society has called for a community conversation about large-scale, high-impact residential development on Martha’s Vineyard. We welcome the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) taking steps in that direction, with their consideration of amending the development of regional impact (DRI) checklist to address such development. We also support John Abram’s comments about broadening the base of stakeholders to help craft workable guidelines.
No one disputes the fact that the scale of the built environment on Martha’s Vineyard — the relationship between structures and the natural landscape — serves as an important defining component of Vineyard character. The visual assets of the Vineyard shoreline and hilltops are especially vulnerable to problems associated with high-impact development. Having regional regulatory power to protect these values is sensible, and amending the DRI checklist is a good way to do that.
The fact is that the MVC is the only regulatory entity empowered to undertake such “trans-zoning” actions as limiting footprint size, requiring off-site conservation offsets, zero nitrogen impacts, low energy use, smart design, and no-net-loss of habitat.
The land and waters of Martha’s Vineyard are recognized by the legislature of this Commonwealth as possessing natural, historical, ecological, scientific, cultural, and other values in which there is a regional and statewide interest in preserving and enhancing. Such protection is not currently assured.
Our MVC is best positioned to undertake the necessary, nuanced analysis of development tolerances of different landscape types on the Island and to ensure that structures placed on the land are appropriate to the setting, and minimize habitat and other impacts.
Vineyard Conservation Society