Critics rally against Stop & Shop expansion

Critics rally against Stop & Shop expansion

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As the Martha’s Vineyard Commission prepares to hold its eighth and possibly final public hearing, opponents have launched an online petition drive.

The most recent rendering of the new two-story, 30,500-square-foot Stop & Shop supermarket. — Photo illustration courtesy of M

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) will pick up where it left off when it meets on Thursday, May 1 to consider a Stop & Shop proposal to build a new, larger supermarket on the site of its now decrepit Vineyard Haven store.

This will be the eighth public hearing in a review process that has ground on since July. The likelihood that the MVC is approaching a vote on the proposal has energized opponents.

Last week, a group of Islanders met to organize and plan a strategy that includes letter writing and speaking in opposition to the project at the public hearing Thursday.

Lillian Robinson of Vineyard Haven created an online petition titled, “Martha’s Vineyard Commission: save the Island from overdevelopment,” on, a petition hosting site created by the nonprofit political action group. Ms. Robinson plans to present the petition to the MVC. By Friday afternoon the petition had received more than 900 signatures from Island residents and people living around the country.

On fire

“The average Trader Joe’s is 10,000 sq ft. and carries about everything a community needs,” a petition signer identified as Don Keller of Vineyard Haven wrote. “Fifty thousand square feet is crazy, especially at 5 ft above sea level. And it all has to be heated and cooled, adding to our carbon footprint. I do not think we need a supersized store at that location.”

A signer identified as Paul Attanasio of Beverly Hills, California said, “Stop this expansion; it will be an eyesore in the harbor and aggravate traffic congestion. Keep Vineyard Haven small!”

A Vineyard Haven resident identified as Allen Birol said, “Martha’s Vineyard Island is not the place for Parking Garages and Supermarkets.”

Vineyard Haven resident Ben Robinson said he and his sister and a group of like-minded Islanders began the petition effort because they are concerned about the size, scale and environmental impacts of a larger store.

“This is the first online petition on the Island and it really just shows the power of being able to give people a voice to say what they really want to say,” Mr. Robinson said. “It’s caught fire, not just on the Island, but also on the Cape and all over the world.”

Mr. Robinson said he was not surprised by the number of signatures, and considers some of the comments under the signatures illuminating. “People on the Cape in places like Falmouth are warning us and I think those comments are really critical,” Mr. Robinson said. “They’re saying, what are you doing, why are you even contemplating something like this.”

Mr. Robinson said he expects the petition to reach over 2,000 signatures by May 1. “I’m not that surprised about how many people have said this project is crazy, because we think it is crazy,” he said. “I think a renovation of the store is perfectly fine, but it has to be within the scale of the downtown.”

The petition states several reasons why the MVC should vote to deny Stop & Shops application. These include inappropriate scale and character, traffic impacts,  economic impacts, environmental and quality-of-life impacts.

The resumption of the hearing process follows a hearing on  March 20. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 6 pm in the Tisbury Senior Center and will be the eighth in the series since the MVC  began its review in July.

Best interests

Stop & Shop proposes to consolidate three abutting properties and remove the existing buildings, including its existing store, in order to construct 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 where trucks would unload.

Stop & Shop has agreed to fund traffic control officers 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 an essay published February 19 (The benefits of a new Stop & Shop)

The new market would replace a trio of decrepit buildings.
The new market would replace a trio of decrepit buildings.


Geoghan Coogan of the Edmond G. Coogan Law Office in Vineyard Haven, who represents Stop & Shop, described the benefits of the project.

“Stop & Shop has proposed to replace its current tired and inadequate Water Street store with a beautiful new store that, beyond all measure, will meet the needs of the community, benefit the town of Tisbury, revitalize the center of Vineyard Haven, and in the process encourage future investment in a downtown area that sorely needs reinvestment as the gateway to the Vineyard,” Mr. Coogan, a former Tisbury selectman said.

Outlining the facts of the project, Mr. Coogan said the footprint of the new building is just 6,500 square feet larger than the existing footprint of the buildings currently on site and the height is dictated by new regulations.

“Yes, the building is higher, as will all renovated buildings be along Water Street, given new state regulations for the flood plain,” Mr. Coogan said. “Taller buildings along Water Street are unavoidable, a minimum of eight feet taller. The proposed Stop & Shop building height at 33 feet, in fact, is lower than the proposed new Island Housing Trust building next door and below the current zoning requirements.”

Mr. Coogan said, “Stop & Shop is smartly utilizing the space beneath the building created to comply with the proposed floodplain elevation to provide 42 parking spaces beneath the structure. The proposed plan relocates the truck deliveries from the Norton Lane side of the store to a completely enclosed receiving area to the rear of the building.”

Mr. Coogan said the project would also create new jobs and new opportunities to revitalize the area. “The downside of not moving forward with this project is business as usual in Vineyard Haven, and that is not in the best interest of anyone — the town of Tisbury, its residents, and Stop & Shop,” he said.


  1. Mr Coogan,

    Either you have been misquoted, don’t know the actual particulars of this proposal, or are purposefully obfuscating the points in order to downplay what you are advocating for.

    1. The building is “maxed out” to 39′ high.

    2. The gross square footage of the proposed store is in the neighborhood of 49,000 sqft. The current square footage of all the existing properties is closer to 27,000 sqft, this includes, the Stop & Shop, the Stop & Shop basement store, the old midnight Farm, the old Golden Dragon and the historic Caleb Prouty House. That is a 22,000 sqft increase.

    3. New jobs, a few low income part time employees that need subsidizing by the public to actually live on the island because they are not paid a human wage doesn’t sound very good to me.

    4. the store is “tired” because Stop & Shop has done nothing to maintain their store.

    5. Whoever designed this proposal needs a lesson in basic design, there is no “back of store” for the trucks, trash, etc. Instead its all jammed together on the public parking lot side. Time to go back to the drawing board with this one, there are plenty of other ways to properly renovate this location that will benefit everyone, not just Stop & Shops bottom line.

    I fully applaud the effort these concerned citizens are making, it is why the Vineyard is a special place, we are not an apathetic populous. We care, and so should Stop & Shop.

    1. I applaud stop and shop for doing this. The store is tired for the simple fact that a business see’s no use in spending millions to keep the same dysfunctional square footage and broken down cooling systems. Time to update, expand and give us what we want and deserve, a cleaner better store like the MVC allowed Cronigs Market to do last year.

      The whole place now is a disgrace.

      1. Yes, the store is a disgrace and always has been because of poor management and under paid employees. That will not change just because the store is bigger. Why not a more moderate proposal that will meet the needs without destroying the special qualities of the Vineyard?

        1. I agree the store is a disgrace, can’t comment on the wages but my students who have worked there, and some parents did it for whatever reason they did it for. Year round while in school, mothers hours etc (Edgartown stop and shop too). I have always felt that if something looked nice, like my kids bedroom, it was less likely to become a pigpen. Mess begets mess so I am optimistic that a cleaner and neater area begets cleaner and neater area. Time will tell. As far as special qualities of the Vineyard go, it’s the people, not the crap stores those nice people congregate in. Although churches have much nicer and friendlier people than post offices.

    2. Fyk, stop and shop subsidezes their own housing. I know of at least 3 houses that they rent for employees. I think they charge a whopping $25 a week for those houses to employees. Just trying to help you get your facts straight

      1. I do not feel that this is 100 percent true. I know someone that has many summer employees contact them for housing. Stop and shop has some housing but far from enough.

  2. Wow, looks great, can’t wait to walk down Cramwall Lane, I mean Cromwell, and see a big blank wall on it. ditto for the wind tunnel along the parking lot side. Is that the high tide mark on the side? It’ll be so much fun to row up to the front door. And what a sight will draw our eyes forty feet high when we and our visitors disembark from the ferry! It’ll be so sad to leave, won’t be able to take my eyes off it! Bye bye, Vineyard Haven (or is it Ahold Heaven?)

      1. Tom, just wait til you see it. May I have your email address? I have a video rendering and a photo collage for you to see. Of course, you want to form your own opinion, and not be basing your opinion solely on what Ahold is showing us, right?
        I have a lot of respect for you, you care.

        1. Do you have a video rendering of the current state of the property? How about a photo collage of the harbor along Beach road, from Boch Park to the lovely Packer properties? Or the collection of commercial properties on Main St. that are in a state of neglect?

          1. Thank you for at least using your real name, Michael Sullivan. Maybe you could work on that project? We need all the help we can get.

          2. I did not realize that this project extended all the way to Boch Park and the Packer properties! unbelievable.

          3. I think you missed my point. The whole downtown area is in neglect, People are trying to fight change and instead are letting the harbor front decay instead. Commercial property in the town is unused and decrepit. Look at the photo in the article. You would rather look at that? Its not quaint. It’s just old and obsolete. Someone is trying to make improvements to the area. They are adding parking to an area that desperately needs it. I get that the people that live in the town and on the island want to have their say on what is built there. But the constant fighting against change is causing downtown and the harborfront area to be a complete embarrassment to the island. .

        2. I’ve seen the vid. It seems to not show the changed and increased setback from the street, which is unfortunate from a credibility standpoint. I am just not convinced that this is as heartrendingly awful as some seem to think. I am incredibly grateful that the store is not being relocated to the hinterlands. We need to concentrate our towns, and not spread out. There is so little open land left.

          1. There is no “changed and increased setback from the street.” Stop and Shop/Ahold has not reduced the square footage by an inch. Credibility? You are the one who is not credible, so sorry to say that to an old friend.

          2. I have seen mentioned in previous news reports that the streetside front of the store was moved back 13 feet from its original planned location. If this recollection is in error, I apologize. Friends should be perfectly free to disagree, that is one of the nice things about friendship, accepting that you do not always agree.

          3. Thank you, Tom. I have heard 4 1/2 ft. or 5 ft. It is certainly no more than five feet, the minimum setback. FYI, the side and rear setbacks will be zero. All the outside activities you see now are on town property, the parking lot. Why should they be allowed to greatly expand their business, which will further overburden the busy town parking lot? Why aren’t they being required to put all that stuff on their own property?
            The height is 39-41 feet. You’ll be able to see it well from the post office and Lagoon Pond Road, five corners,Black Dog and SSA waterfront area, etc.
            If Stop and Shop had submitted a complete application to begin with, there wouldn’t be so much confusion. That is why the application should be denied by the MV Commission. It is incomplete.
            btw, the pole is gone from the Stop and Shop that showed the proposed height. why?

          4. it only has to be 5 feet. What’s the big deal? It meets setbacks.

            They are actually taking all the outside activity that they have an easement for and moving it inside. Another improvement to the area. They are not using any other property for their “stuff” under the new plan. Parking lot is only overburdened when a boat is coming in for picking up passengers. Height is being made to meet flood water FEMA maps. You’ll only see the IHT proposed housing affordable project from the post office and Lagoon Pond Road. The mass of IHT’s project will block the view of the Stop and Shop. There’s no confusion from the people that listen and understand. Stop your mud throwing. The MVC should approve it because they’re rational people when it comes to this.

          5. The MVC should deny it for many reasons I won’t debate here. I have been listening and paying attention. I do understand. I suggest you read the MVC’s correspondence from the Tisbury Planning Board, the Tisbury Historic Commission, the Tisbury Waterways, and many others. or are they all irrational, too?

          6. And again you ignore that Stop & Shop is adding parking on their property and they are moving the truck deliveries off Norton Lane and onto their property. They are putting “that stuff on their own property” as you say they should and that was part of the original proposal, not a public request by the MVC. It is long since time you drop the parking lot from your repetitive arguments.

          7. I believe we live in a democracy. Sometimes it takes a lot of repetition to get the public’s attention. Sorry that you choose to make derogatory comments about me. It reflects badly on you.
            The Stop and Shop wants to build to the lot line on three sides, with a five foot setback on Water Street. Every activity on the Tisbury town parking lot is and will take place on municipal property, not theirs. That is just one reason why this expansion is so bad. Shall I continue?

          8. Indeed, there is so little open land left. I have been trying for years to convince Tisbury residents not to pave over the old landfill for new roads. It was a delight to walk there, a lovely wild meadow. Now it is plastered with solar panels, a project I cannot object to morally. But people want what is easy and quick, they think that we must forever cater to the automobile. It reminds me of a book a friend gave me once, “If Only I Were in Charge of the World,” by Dr. Seuss.

          9. It hasn’t been a landfill for decades.
            “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
            I think it was lovely. covered with wildflowers and surrounded with treed hills. I took some photos from the back of Park and Ride at sunset. I’ve walked there many times. Have you ever even seen it, teachcoach?

          10. I bet you have not seen it, or walked there. It is a CAPPED landfill, that over the years has become very meadow-like, until the town erected the solar panel array, which I do not object to.

          11. Ok Marie, you know it all. According to you I haven’t seen it or walked there. yup, you’re right. Feel better now? lol

          12. Sure. Thanks for being honest.
            Let’s stop commenting about it, o.k. My response was to Tom’s that there is so little open space left. I am sorry we got into it, I guessed you are not familiar with the capped Tisbury landfill when you called it a dump. We don’t know what we have til it’s gone, as Joni said.

          13. That’s not entirely true. We know what we have even when it’s gone. We have a museum on the island which shows us all. They are care takers of our past and moving on to the future is not a bad thing. Like moving on to a better stop and shop. Did they deny it this evening? Yet to see the video.

      2. which is amazing considering what they are doing in Woods Hole in response to the neighbors’ concerns re the new terminal! why, we may actually have to get active on this side of the water. see you there.

        1. The SSA has done little but “tweak” their plans in the face of a boiling Woods Hole. They are barely budging, and seem to be unwilling to consider common sense or economy in their expansion plans. Islanders have done so little to express their views on new boats, terminals, and so on, that the SSA, and sadly, our own Island representative, are simply ignoring us.

        2. I have seen it. It’s pretty, yes. So are other properties in town. I wasn’t saying anything about it except it’s a landfill. Yes, capped but nevertheless a landfill and state law prohibits certain things from happening there because it’s a landfill.

          I am a lover of beauty and it is in the eye of the beholder. I like the sign on the hill overlook at tashmoo where some others don’t. I like open space but also refuse to dictate what private property owners do with their own land. Like people when they fought the cutting of trees at the grove. Stop and Shop will be an improvement.

    1. OMG I would hate to see a non rundown Stop & Shop, that would be horrible….oh wait…how about we take one look at the rest of the buildings on the harbor and realize that something that doesn’t look like its about to fall down might be a good thing

  3. The opponents of S&S are consistenly using a 50K SF figure, which is twisting the facts. If you are going to oppose something, do it honestly.

    1. Honesty should be a two way street, Tom, especially in this case. Ahold is showing you a partial photo drawing of what it will look like.

      1. Whatever Ahold is doing, presenting inaccurate or misleading “facts” in support of one’s position, on either side, is reprehensible, and devalues the credibility of the discussion.

  4. I’m tired of the resistance to change tisbury and the island has. We need this Stop and SHOP to be built. The same people against this say Tisbury downtown needs more business. There is no more character to the town. It is a strip mall for the summer people. They will still come after this is built so don’t worry about your precious dollars being spent somewhere else. Just like the rotary which I was against, once its built you’ll see that it is a benefit for those struggling to keep the community alive. I’m sure most of the islanders against this have security in their ancesters home with no mortgage and can afford to shop at cronigs. For the rest of us renters we need this. Get off your high horses and do what’s right for the community.

    1. Someone with a very modest income can have a perfectly fine diet on the vineyard, even if there was no Stop & Shop. I know this, because I am one.

      As for the roundabout, which seems to be a sticking point for people, I have always been for it. Some progress is beneficial. Such as the progress on the vineyard towards a sustainable and local food supply. unfortunately Stop & Shop does not participate in this kind of beneficial progress, since it sells nothing local.

      I think most people would not mind seeing a new store of similar scale to what it is currently there. And as it stands now, it is one of Stop & Shops most profitable stores, so expansion is only so they can make more money.

      And when they expand, you the customer will pay for the cost of the expansion in mark ups on all the products. It boggles me that people think Stop & Shop is on their side, lets be clear, they are only after more profit, period.

      If you think we need big box stores on the island so that we can survive, you are living in the wrong place. The island has constantly protected itself from this kind of development, and it is doing just fine, if not better than the mainland that is clogged with big box shopping centers.

      1. Without the Stop and Shops we ALL would collectively starve. S&S has a hard enough time keeping the shelves stocked as it is. Maybe everyone should shop where you shop and see how long your perfectly fine diet lasts or can you survive on tree bark?

        1. Right, but by that theory if we took out the 2 Cronigs, and Cumberlands, and Reliable, and the markets we’d all starve. I get that you can save like 10 cents on milk at S+S (assuming you didn’t go to Cumberlands or Reliable), but I don’t think that’s what’s between us and starvation.

          1. There is barely a three day supply of food in American supermarkets as it is. It’s not about price it’s about quantity and selection.

          2. Wait until a Sandy or Katrina type storm hits our area. No power, no food, no gas. Good luck with that kiddo. Anyways the point is moot as the expansion plans have been withdrawn for now.

        2. It is not a lifeline to us, just Stop and Shop’s second biggest moneymaking store which they hope to exploit. I hardly think we would starve without them. What do you want? Do you grow any food or buy from local farmers? Are you looking for 27 varieties of high fructose corn syrup laden bread? maybe some of choose not to eat that. or is this just a disguised attack on people who can afford to shop elsewhere?

          1. once again people have asked about S and S being the number 2 money making store in the chain and 1) it’s not been confirmed nor denied . They actually claimed it was the number one grossing store and that was never confirmed or denied. That was so far fetched someone change the drama rumor to the second highest grossing in the chain. This is just made up rhetoric. There are NO numbers to support claims like this.

          2. There are non-facts, unsupported information and hysterics in the petition, too, and amazingly, smart people are signing it. It reminds me of the roundabout petitions. It’s like a Facebook bandwagon where people don’t know actual facts, but friends are signing it, so others go along. By the way, to the person most hysterical on this link, the overblown, untrue, hyperbolic statements coming from you in this link are what make people ridicule any objections to the plans. There is not a food store on the island that does not sell products containing high fructose corn syrup. Calmer people are very supportive of the Stop and Shop’s plans and see it as a vast improvement.

          3. That was just a sarcastic example of what they will sell. I’m sorry if I upset you. People who oppose this are far outnumbered by those who support it, and I am very calm, thank you. I guess you just have a different style, using ridicule and personal insults to win support. By the way, most of the confusion is being generated by Stop and Shop’s own lack of detail on their application.

          4. I would sign the petition again against the roundabout. Its nice but we could have lived without it. that money would have gone to far better use elsewhere. But it was free, so dont look a gift horse in the mouth. Might be the same here I dont know.

          5. I figured as much, lol. You realize people will spread this as fact, without knowing or caring if it’s true. I’d say the VH Stop & Shop is one of the top two S&S money earners on the Island.

    2. I never said downtown Tisbury needs more business. I don’t live in an ancestor’s home. I can afford to shop at Cronigs, or even an organic GMO free farm if I wanted.

    3. Yes, you too should do what’s right for the community. Ask the MVC to deny the application, and let Stop and Shop give us a nice new grocery store, not a SUPERmarket.

  5. I’d be cool if we shoot this deal down, so long as we can take a look at every other property on VH harbor and scrutinize the beauty it is bringing to the island. Decrepit does not equal quaint. You are so worried about how it will look to people getting off the boat? Give me a break

    1. Michael, the opposition doesn’t want to apply the same demands to anywhere else (except maybe a bowling alley?) as they do to this project. We’ve seen several “expansions” at Bernier’s Market that have basically turned that area of State Road into gridlock in the summer with hardly a peep from anyone.

    2. there isn’t enough time on a calendar to look at run down buildings along the harbor front in VH.

  6. What exists now around the old grocery store building is an eyesore. It is not quaint. This will be a welcome change for everyone.

  7. Build it, if you don’t like it don’t shop there, if you like crappy old buildings, thank the owner of cronies for blocking stop and shop, no wonder they need to build higher. Still don’t like it? Leave the island.

    1. I believe we would all like to see an improved Stop and Shop. I shop there, as well as Cronig’s and Reliable and Tisbury Farm Market. There is no reason that Stop and Shop cannot have a beautiful but respectful building in Vineyard Haven.
      There is no amount of mitigation in the form of traffic police, that is going to change the fact that there are far too many vehicles in a failed traffic area, that alone should cause the Commission to require a scaled down version of their plan. Vineyard Haven does not need a “one-stop shopping” big box store in the worst possible location.
      As an abutter, I hope the Commission will ask the Stop and Shop to come back to them with a revised plan.

  8. Put back the pole! what a dirty trick to remove it three days before the (last) public hearing!

    1. conspiracy I say. conspiracy. It’s been up long enough for everyone to see is the reason why I would assume. Everything is not done to upset you.

    2. My sentiment exactly. Put back that pole!

      Add some liquor, tassels and a one dollar bill machine and we’ll have instant strip joint. Just what the island needs. A pole for doing tricks with scantily clad women swinging around it. Hell, I’m an equal opportunity employer. Have a mens night and open the pole up to male strippers.

  9. This is absurd. Imagine if your neighbor let his house become a piece of crud then went over to you and said “Well. My house is a piece of crud now so now I get to build a palace right next to you about 7 times bigger than it was on the same lot”. It doesn’t work that way folks. It’s a non-sequitor.

  10. How much of this opposition is fueled by Cronig’s? If Stop N Shop abandons this intersection, Cronig’s can continue to gouge residents and the intersection will look even worse. Do we really want an abandoned Chinese restaurant as the first thing people see?