MVC resumes its Stop & Shop hearings Thursday

MVC resumes its Stop & Shop hearings Thursday

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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.

Parking

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.”