To the Editor:
1. Chapter 831 states, and I quote – “The purpose of the commission created by this act shall be to further protect the health, safety and general welfare of island residents and visitors by preserving and conserving for the enjoyment of present and future generations, the unique natural, historical, ecological, scientific and cultural values of Martha’s Vineyard which contribute to public enjoyment, inspiration, and scientific study, by protecting these values from development and uses which would impair them, and by promoting the enhancement of sound local economies.”
I don’t see this happening if the Stop & Shop proposal gets approved. Instead, I believe that the very values the commission is charged to protect would be severely compromised, in violation of the intent of Chapter 831.
Therefore, when you go through the checklist detailed in section 15, page 14, paragraphs (a) through (h) of Chapter 831, please consider my opinions of how these questions should be answered. Material in quotes is from Chapter 831.
“Section 15 DRI Benefits vs. Detriments (a) development at the proposed location is or is not essential or especially appropriate in view of the available alternatives on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard … “ No, this development is not essential and is extremely inappropriate at the proposed location. No one has ever presented any data to suggest that there aren’t enough retail food outlets on this Island. The assumption that a larger food store is needed has not been proven. It has not been demonstrated that the public, or the Island’s economy, would benefit in any way from this project. I believe that it is all about profits for the applicant.
“(c) the proposed development will favorably or adversely affect other persons or property, and if so, whether, because of circumstances peculiar to the location, the effect is likely to be greater than is ordinarily associated with development of the types proposed…” There can be no question that this development will adversely affect other persons and property severely. The disruption of normal business and especially traffic, both during construction and afterward, will undoubtedly have a severe impact, not only on Tisbury, but on the entire Island’s economy. If this development were to take place at a different location, it might be appropriate, but at the proposed location, it is madness, in the context of Chapter 831, to even consider it.
“(d) the proposed development will favorably or adversely affect the supply of needed low and moderate income housing for island residents…” This project will have a negative impact on the supply of housing for Island residents, since the developer has indicated that it will bring in off-Island help, thus worsening the present situation. This help will be low income, and the developer has not provided a realistic and responsible solution to this problem.
“(e) the proposed development will favorably or adversely affect the provision of municipal services and the burden on taxpayers in making provision therefor …” There can be no question that this project would put a tremendous burden, not only on Tisbury, but on the entire Island. Especially during the construction phase, and continuing beyond, the traffic problems this will cause are unacceptable. To expect emergency vehicles to get through such a mess in a timely fashion is madness. This traffic mess this will cost tradesmen time for which they will not be compensated, kill retail trade all over the Island, mess up the Steamship Authority, and send tourists packing. Tisbury has not given any indication that it is capable of effectively dealing with the situation, and the small amount that the developer is willing to offer for remediation will just not do so. Taxpayers will end up footing the bill. The negative impact that this project will have, at that location, to the whole Island’s economy, is staggering. No information on this has been presented to the commission in the application, therefore, you do not have a complete submission.
“(H) the proposed development will further contravene land development objectives and policies developed by regional and state agencies…” This project has the potential to severely impact both groundwater and surface water quality, in violation of federal, state and local water quality standards. It will have a substantially increased impact on these resources over the store that is there now. Since the Tisbury Wastewater Treatment Plant is not licensed to take discharges from developments of this sort, an elaborate water collection and treatment facility will have to be built on-site, to deal not only with about 700,000 gallons of storm water runoff each year, but also the toxic drippings that will accumulate in the parking garage. If this situation is not handled right, it could have a substantial impact on the water quality of Tisbury harbor. That could adversely impact the fishing, shellfishing, boating, and recreational industries of the town, and of the Island as a whole.
Tisbury harbor is already partly polluted. The Island is annually experiencing an alarming rate of increase in seasonal beach closings. Tourists will soon say, “What do I want to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard for, when the beaches are polluted?” This could impact the whole Island’s economy, yet you have no information on this in the application. This is an issue you are supposed to address in making your determination, but you can’t, because you have an incomplete submission.
In light of all of the above, it makes sense for the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to deny the application. The Island will not benefit from this development. It will hurt our economy and our way of life. “Qui bono.”
Frank H. Dunkl
I don’t believe that anyone has yet demonstrated, with facts, that there is any need to increase the size of the existing store. No one has ever told me that there aren’t enough places to buy food. Some misguided folks seem to believe that a new store will offer more choices, however that is not what Stop & Shop representatives are saying in their submission. So, where are the advantages to the Island community? All I see are potential detriments.
I am not comfortable with the Martha’s Vineyard Commission process in reviewing this application. I feel that we, the Island residents, are being sold out to big money interests from abroad. I am not at all happy with the backroom deals that I see in progress. This smacks to me awfully like off-Island style corruption. I am making no accusations. I am just saying that the situation smells. I feel that the rug is being pulled out from under us.
I am not confident that the interests Chapter 831 mandates should be protected are being taken seriously. I see dollar signs written all over the way this project is being railroaded through. So far as I am concerned, goodbye Martha’s Vineyard. This will set a precedent we will decry from here on out.
If this project gets approval, I and many others will boycott Stop & Shop and do everything we can to avoid going through Vineyard Haven. What with the traffic and destruction of Island values, it just won’t be worth the bother. We will take our business elsewhere. The real shame of this situation is that I see a loss of confidence in the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and in the way that it does its job. I hope that commissioners will come to their senses in time to redeem the commission’s reputation, before it is too late.
By allowing the applicant to submit information after the fact and not requiring that this data be provided up front so that you can review it, you are shirking your duty as specified in Chapter 831. In addition, it can be argued that you do not have a complete submission.
According to Chapter 831, your own DRI guidelines, and your Island Plan, you are supposed to demand and review all pertinent information, in the context of the values you are supposed to protect, before you consider the application complete, and before you vote on the merits of the application. To consider an application complete before all relevant data is before you is irresponsible at best and could be of questionable legality.
All information relevant to the proposed development and its effects on the whole Island should be available in a timely manner, for public review, so that we, the residents of Martha’s Vineyard, can offer intelligent and objective input into the review process.
The Martha’s Vineyard Commission policy of excluding public participation into almost every phase of the review process is a disgusting disgrace. We who have grown up on, or lived on Martha’s Vineyard for many years, are made to feel like outcasts in our own community. There needs to be more transparency of, and public participation in, the entire DRI review process. The way the MVC has been conducting the process makes many wonder whether or not it is operating in a legal manner.
If, despite the observations detailed above, the commission should decide to go ahead and vote on this development proposal, without the benefit of substantial information many believe it should have asked for in advance, I feel that any decision it may make could be challenged in court, on the grounds that the commission did not act responsibly and in accordance with the language and intent of Chapter 831.
The commission has taken an oath to protect certain Island values, as stipulated in Chapter 831. If it fails to take its responsibilities seriously, it may not only expose itself to possible litigation, but will also lose credibility with the public, whose interests the commission is charged to protect.
Peter A. Dunkl