MVC moves to approve Rymes propane storage facility in Tisbury

Rymes expects to expand its delivery capabilities on the Island. — Photo courtesy of Rymes

Updated Friday, Nov. 1

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission moved one step closer to approving a proposal from Rymes Island Propane gas to operate a new propane delivery business on Evelyn Way, off State Road in Tisbury near the Park and Ride lot.

“We came to the Island a year and a half ago and made all kinds of promises,” John Rymes, owner of Rymes Island Propane told commissioners, at their October 24 meeting. “We have held on to every one of those promises and saved the Island over $10 million. We have grown like we thought we would.”

“I think it’s in as good a place to put the tanks as any area,” Tisbury commissioner Clarence (Trip) Barnes said Thursday.

The MVC Thursday closed a public hearing on the Rymes proposal. Commissioners proposed only one condition, site review by the office of the State Fire Marshall.

The MVC will hold a post-hearing review at the Land Use Planning Committee meeting (LUPC), on Monday November 4. A vote is expected at the MVC’s next meeting on November 14.

At a public hearing in June 2012, the MVC reviewed a proposal by Mr. Rymes to operate a propane delivery business off High Point Lane in Vineyard Haven. Since the operation involves fuel storage, it triggered a referral from the town of Tisbury for review as a development of regional impact (DRI).

Rymes Island Propane, a New Hampshire-based company, leased a 20,000 square-foot parcel, part of a 10-acre property owned by Goodale Construction. The site has been subdivided and currently serves as a staging and storage area for several construction and industrial companies.

Bad bollards

In other business, commissioners closed an extended public hearing for the Vineyard Assembly of God Church, which is seeking permission to replace nine three-foot bollard lights with six 12-foot lights in its parking lot.

The church is located in a residential neighborhood off State Road in Tisbury. MVC planner Paul Foley presented a few of the key issues involved in the proposal, primarily raised by abutters to who object to the new lighting scheme.

“We have a great deal of respect for churches and churches in residential neighborhoods,” Christina Brown of Edgartown said. “But I think that my impression is that this is more lighting in a parking lot than other churches have.”

Church pastor Joseph Dockter said the lights will be set to a timer and will be on no later than 10 pm. He also emphasized the improved safety.

“We feel that it’s very important to increase the lighting,” Mr. Dockter said. “It is dark. My concern as pastor is to make sure it is safe for the members of our church.”

Several abutters and residents of nearby neighborhoods to the church attended the Thursday night meeting and read from letters they had submitted to the MVC.

“I live in the neighborhood of the Vineyard Assembly of God and am writing to ask that you reject their request for new, high exterior lights,” said Janet Woodcock of 97 Deer Hill Road, which is across State Road. “We are a rural, residential community, and lights such as these have no place in this area. It would be a marked contrast to how we currently live.”

MVC chairman Fred Hancock of Oak Bluffs told Mr. Dockter that he has been working in lighting for many years and doesn’t think this is the best option.

“Our aim, really, is not to make an unsafe parking lot, we want you to have a safe parking lot,” Mr. Hancock said. “But our belief is that you can have a safe parking lot without the type of lighting you’re suggesting. You need to have something that’s designed a whole lot better.”

Church member Ed McCormick told the commission the issue is safety.

“We’re thinking, this is just a bad accident waiting to happen,” Mr. McCormick said. “We want to do our due diligence.”

Church member Duane Vought referenced the commission’s prior conditions for church approval.

“The bollard lights that are there now, were laid out and set by this commission,” Mr. Vought said. “So complaining about them now is a little bit late. We followed your guidelines in doing that.”

Commissioners who had not already done so agreed to drive by the church following Thursday’s meeting to get a more accurate impression of the lighting scheme.

A post-public hearing has been scheduled for Monday, November 4.


In other business, the MVC voted unanimously to approve a dredging project in Vineyard Haven Harbor submitted by the R. M. Packer Company.

Ralph Packer, owner of the fuel depot and marina complex on Vineyard Haven Harbor, wants to dredge the area in front of his docks to a depth of 16-17 feet, to allow deeper craft to approach and moor at his wharves.

“How you vote is probably the most important vote to our whole project,” Mr. Packer said Thursday.

He said the last time this area was dredged was in the 1930s.

MVC planner Paul Foley presented commissioners with the details.

“Currently they have several small cruise ships as well as small private vessels, barges that stop here,” Mr. Foley said.

Fuller Containers

In other business, commissioners voted unanimously to approve a request by Jesse Fuller of Fuller Landscaping to locate eight storage containers off Dr. Fisher Road in West Tisbury.

The 20- by eight-foot containers will be used to store irrigation equipment, lawn mowers, tools, and hydro-seeds supplies.

“This seems to be somewhat of a no-brainer,” Chilmark commissioner Doug Sederholm said.

Melissa Manter, an abutter, asked that as a condition of approval a fence go all the way around the property.

“What’s happening now is the fill and the debris has been falling on to my property,” Ms. Manter said. “If they could put a stockade fence, then I wouldn’t have to worry about anything overflowing.”

The MVC approved the application with conditions that included a stockade fence around the property, no chemical waste, and limits on hours of operation.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the MVC had approved the Rymes storage facility on October 25.. The MVC closed the public hearing but has yet to vote on a special permit.