Stop & Shop returns to the MVC Thursday

A photo illustration shows how the latest design for a new grocery store in Vineyard Haven would look. — Photo illustration courtesy of Martha's Vineyard Commission

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) will resume its review of a revised proposal from the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, which plans to expand at its current Vineyard Haven location.

According to the most recent proposal, which will be subject of the reopened public hearing this evening, the store will grow to approximately 30,000 square feet. The plan no longer includes any proposal to reorganize the circulation and layout of the town-owned parking lot, Norton Lane, or the removal of the comfort station.

The company had offered to build a restroom in its building in exchange for removing the town comfort station as a way to free up space in the municipal lot.

“We left the last MVC hearing with the intention of changing the municipal lot and removing the comfort station,” Geoghan Coogan, a Tisbury attorney and former selectman who represents Stop & Shop, told The Times Wednesday. “As far as we are concerned [now] we’re leaving the parking lot alone and focusing on the building itself.”

The new proposal also includes a wheelchair accessible restroom at the back of building that will allow for access from Main Street without having to enter the store.

Among other changes, the perimeter of the building facing Water street has been moved back two feet, allowing for a 13-foot sidewalk with landscaping and benches, and the building height has been reduced two feet, to reflect the height of other buildings in the area.

“We’ve done a ton of work, not just redesigning the building but figuring out how it’s going to look,” Mr. Coogan said. “But now we have a model so we can really get more of an idea of what the differences are.”

Traffic concerns have also been addressed in the new proposal.

On August 21, 23, and 24, Boston-based planning, design, and engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB) and the MVC teamed up to do an extensive traffic and parking survey. The result of their efforts culminated in a 150-page report that will be discussed at Thursday’s hearing, Mr. Coogan said.

The Stop & Shop hearing, which began July 11, was postponed last month after Stop & Shop representatives requested more time to gather necessary documents and information, MVC staff member and DRI coordinator Paul Foley said.

In February, the Stop & Shop company announced plans to take advantage of its related real estate holdings to increase the size of the building the grocery store now occupies and add an enclosed parking garage. Tisbury referred the project to the MVC for review as a development of regional impact (DRI).

“We want to work closely with the MVC to produce the best project possible and one that serves the needs of the community,” Stop & Shop consultant Greg O’Brien told The Times Tuesday. “We believe that a larger store is needed to serve Vineyard Haven, and we believe our proposal does meet the needs of the Island.”

With MVC approval, Stop & Shop said that construction would take place over the winter of 2014-2015.

Local business leader reacts

“I think it’s a floating canvas right now,” Susan Goldstein co-owner of the Mansion House in Vineyard Haven told The Times Tuesday. Ms. Goldstein said she has attended all of the Stop & Shop hearings over the last few months and is looking forward to the store’s new proposal.

“I’m happy that there is some action to make changes on our waterfront,” Ms. Goldstein said. “You can’t talk about the Stop & Shop proposal without thinking about what’s there right now. Anything down there would be a major improvement, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they will present.”

Ms. Goldstein said that representatives from the supermarket had stopped by the Mansion House over the summer, to show her renderings of what the new store would look like from the hotel’s cupola deck.

“I haven’t seen the most recent rendition, but I did see the last iteration of the plan, and it was a big building, but it’s something that I could live with,” Ms. Goldstein said.

April Levandowski, owner of Le Roux at Home on Main Street in downtown Vineyard Haven, shared some of Ms. Goldstein’s sentiments.

“To not have a better quality supermarket in town would be a really terrible thing,” Ms. Levandowski said.

Ms. Levandowski said she would like to see some attention paid to traffic issues around Five Corners and Norton Lane.

“I think it’s so dangerous right now, between the pedestrians and vehicle traffic. I hope that this is addressed at tomorrow’s meeting,” she added.