MVC resumes its Stop & Shop hearings Thursday

MVC resumes its Stop & Shop hearings Thursday

by -
The most recent rendering of the new two-story, 30,500-square-foot Stop & Shop supermarket designed by architect Chuck Sullivan. — Illustration courtesy of MVC

Stop & Shop will return to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) today, March 20, with a set of revised proposals for the new larger Vineyard Haven supermarket. The resumption of the hearing process follows a nearly two-month hiatus since January 23. The hearing, at 6 pm in the Tisbury Senior Center, will be the seventh in the series since the MVC  began its review in July.

Among the latest set of offers, Stop & Shop will guarantee to relocate the historic house at 15 Cromwell Lane, assist with the funding of police officer control at the Five Corners intersection, and continue to work with Tisbury on the design of the town-owned municipal lot adjacent to the store.

In a conversation with The Times Tuesday, Geoghan Coogan, a former Tisbury selectman who has represented Stop & Shop in the protracted public process, said he is ready to see the hearing come to a close once and for all.“I hope the commission wraps up looking at the project on Thursday,” he said. “It would be nice to at least move forward.”

Mr. Coogan said that due to the nature of a tri-party agreement among the town, the MVC, and Stop & Shop, the process has gone on longer than anyone could have anticipated.

“Nobody wants to throw stones, and I think having people understand that it’s not just Stop & Shop or it’s not just the MVC that is causing a delay, it’s just a matter of everyone working together and with the town that makes it complex,” he said.

Over the last eight months, supermarket representatives have worked with the MVC and Tisbury planners, officials, and residents to prepare for the consolidation of three abutting properties and remove the existing buildings on those properties to make room for a new two-story, 30,500-square-foot market. The plans also include a parking lot for 41 vehicles in an enclosed area on the ground level beneath the market.

In January, Stop & Shop representatives said they were ready to see the hearing come to a close, but because of inclement weather, a Tisbury planning and design committee, established to address issues surrounding the town parking lot, was unable to gather to address the applicant’s most recent offers.

When the parking lot committee failed to reach a consensus on a proposal by mid-February, selectman chairman Jeff Kristal suggested they meet a few more times and bring the process to a conclusion.

Stop & Shop representatives in turn asked that the MVC postpone its next public hearing session from February 20 to March 20, to allow the committee more time, because decisions about the lot’s redesign would have a bearing on the company’s offers to the town.


On March 11, Tisbury selectmen voted to approve a conceptual plan for the Water Street municipal parkinglot, next to the supermarket in Vineyard Haven. Selectmen agreed after a discussion with the parking lot committee and representatives from Stop & Shop that the plan will serve as a working template in the development of the final design.

Among the highlights, the committee agreed that Norton Lane should remain open to one-way vehicular traffic from Main Street through the parking lot to Water Street, with foundation plantings and trees added alongside the store building to help screen it from Cromwell Lane to Water Street. The committee also wants the public restrooms building to remain, with its entrance changed to face west toward Main Street rather than toward the parking lot. The number of parking spaces is unchanged from the current arrangement.

Mr. Coogan said he is hopeful that Thursday’s hearing will bring some closure. “It’s definitely not been easy,” he said. “We’re just hoping that people take a step back. It’s important to try and get it right, and we’re going through all the steps we have to go through.”


  1. Would the MV Commission please do a study to determine if a police officer controlling traffic at five corners create problems or solve them. The impression that most people have is that every time a police officer has been stationed at five-corners it has caused massive traffic jams. Leaving it to common sense and driver courtesy has (it seems) always worked. Perhaps there should be a one week trial period with a police officer there and cameras running from several vantage points, and another week without. Running them at high speed after the comparisons would pretty much indicate whether this will work or not. If this is mandated, and it does not work, then what?

    1. Didn’t we have a common sense 4 way stop already that was deemed not good enough? guess we need another roundabout….

      1. I think your response was intended for me. I expect two objections to stop signs at a five-street intersection:
        1) the mind can’t process information from more than 3 other streets,
        2) drivers don’t want to stop.
        That would suggest a roundabout at five corners.

  2. Try stop signs, even if people say they don’t want them. It’s what is done on the mainland when a traffic light is out of service.

    Temporary ones. Inexpensive. Embed a post in a heavy chunk of concrete, put a stop sign at the top, place one in each road on the centerline. Give them a week. If they don’t work, haul ‘em away.

    1. Maybe not a stop sign, May be a “Be Polite” sign, or “We Are Watching You”. LOL

  3. Why would the MVC in their right mind allow a store to double in size in this location without providing any concrete relief to the traffic or parking?

    Stop & Shop is only planning to provide less than a third of the necessary parking for a 30,000 sqft store? The rest will be dependent on the Town.

    So why would Tisbury want to give up their control over the municipal lot that services the entire downtown so that a private corporation can jam too much into an already overly congested downtown?

    Why doesn’t Stop & Shop show us a realistic plan for an in town grocery store, not this big box store that seems to disregard all the existing conditions?

    This is a no brainer, the MVC should to do their job and control this type of growth.

    1. Why doesn’t the MVC require every store in the business centers provide parking?

      1. Your response makes no sense to me.

        We are discussing a 30,000 sqft supermarket. It’s too big to not provide adequate parking. It is not a small boutiques store on Main Street.

        You seem to want to avert your gaze, so that a multi national corporation plunk down can as they call it, “the American grocery store model” right in the heart of an historic village. This model they are pushing is a what we see in the strip malls of America. Do we want a strip mall to take over Vineyard Haven.

        Even more egregious though, is that they will also try and permanently encumber town land in the process, and so far the Tisbury Selectman have not sought the residents approval for this long term encroachment on Public Land. Shouldn’t this be addressed at a Town meeting, and not behind closed doors between lawyers?

        Through the year long process Stop & Shop has made no real concessions to better fit the Vineyards special conditions, this is a troubling sign of what are future holds if we allow this kind of corporate development.

        1. The shopping districts of Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown are nothing more than strip malls with insufficient parking. Worse than strip malls, many stores offer only tourist souvenirs. Stop & Shop is in the business of selling essential goods. And… Stop & Shop plans to add parking, something NO OTHER BUSINESS HAS DONE.

          As for what you see in models of the strip malls of America, that is what the current building is, a relic from the modernism of the 1950’s. The appearance of the new store is tailored with residential accents. Stop & Shop has gone so much further with this design than any supermarket I’ve seen elsewhere.

          As for encroachment on public land, where? The land belongs to them. They could have simply made a bigger version of the current structure.

          1. They plan to encumber the municipal parking lot that is Town land with all of their entrances, the parking garage, the loading bays, store entrances, etc. Instead of using their frontage on Water Street. This will be set forth in an agreement that will bind the Town to allow this trespassing across the Town property, and in the future if the Town wants to change the parking lot it will not be able to.

            Your opinion of whether or not the towns on the island are strip malls does not mean we should allow this to continue.

            The Stop & Shop proposal is in no way a departure from their normal construction or design they put forth at all their other locations on and off the island. Don’t be fooled by renderings of quaint architectural motifs, that ironically make it look larger and more out of place. It is a big box store and disguising it with trivial architecture that holds no real historical vernacular or purposeful design reasoning will not hide it.

            As for providing a service, more rows of soda and chips might not be the service we need. Where is their commitments to work with local farmers in promoting a more sustainable food supply chain?

          2. I presume Water Street won’t be used for store access because of the expected rise in sea level. The store won’t be forced to close when it floods. Now you’ll say global warming is a hoax. It’s not your property, it’s not your money, it’s not your business decision.

            The town won’t change that parking lot, it’s too small. It’s only happening this time because someone else is chipping in a big chunk of money.

            A big box store on the mainland could easily cover from Main Street to Water Street and from Union Street, across Beach Road and over the Post Office building. That’s big box, this is not. The new Stop & Shop will replace *on their property* four ugly buildings, which by your standards are more desirable.

            As for historical significance, acquaint us all with the historical and architectural significance of the other buildings on Water Street and on Beach Road out toward the bridge.

            By selectively applying “rules,” the towns give their tacit approval to this strip mall business model. And as you appear to see it, to stop the sale of essential goods.

          3. The access to the store is on Norton Lane, a public street. The store is entirely on property owned by Stop and Shop. They have reduced the size of the building by 20% and drastically improved the exterior design over the last year to make it fit in to the architecture of the downtown area. As far as size it’s about the same size as Cronig’s. As far as the height of the building it reflects the new standard set forth by FEMA and anything rebuilt in that area will have to be about the same height. ( S&S design is 3 feet higher than required to provide 41 additional parking spaces for anyone shopping in downtown)

          4. Incorrect. Norton Lane is not a public Street.

            They have not reduced the building size in any real way.

            Cronigs has its own dedicated parking, that is more than the public parking and the Stop & Shop garage combined.

          5. Tisbury zoning requires businesses to provide ZERO parking spaces in the B1 district. Adding 41 new spaces is a great benefit to the town.
            Since when did Norton Lane and the parking not become a public way?
            The proposed store is just under 25K sq ft, not 30K. Currently the retail floor space on this site is about 19k sq. ft.
            But don’t let the facts get in the way of your ramble.

          6. Since this is a subject of regional impact by the MVC Tisbury Zoning laws are not all that is to be considered. Traffic and parking will be greatly impacted with any increase to any business in that area.

            They plan to develop right to the edge of their property.

            Even with a conservative estimate Stop & Shops property measures 240′ x 100′ x 2 floors = 48,000 square feet. You can take out the loading bay which is only one floor but you are still way over 30,000 sqft. And don’t say the garage is not to be counted, any garage on the island is measured in sqft.

            There never was a road called Norton Lane, it has always been at the discretion of the Town that the public may cross it. the Town is now thinking of signing an agreement with Stop & Shop to assure it will remain open, ceding their control over Town property all without asking the Town residents if this is OK.

          7. Adultcontent has it exactly right. Its their land and their building will be an improvement over anything else that resides there. What ”special conditions” does MV really have? We have so many run down buildings and houses that we should be embarrassed. We don’t enforce our zoning laws, we don’t clean up after ourselves, yet we show angst over a few dogs walking on the beach that we reserve for the elite. We practice elegant slumming because its egalitarian and cute. We subsidize inefficiency with solar and wind and hate the dreaded carbon. Stop and Shop is our best citizen and yet we hog tie them.