The Edgartown planning board continued its public hearing to a third session for a project to build second-floor housing in the triangle business area buildings, following two hours of testimony from neighbors and housing advocates Tuesday evening.
The public hearing will resume on July 15 at 5:45 pm, and may be followed by a vote on the special permit application from Charles Hajjar, trustee for Haven Road Realty Trust.
The project, approved by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission on May 9, would include eight housing units, with a total of 15 bedrooms, in the second floor attic space of the two buildings, which house the U.S. Post Office, banks, and other businesses. The developer plans to reconfigure the parking lot, to increase the number of spaces from 69, to 83, including four handicapped parking spaces.
People who live in a nearby residential district near the commercial buildings object for reasons that include increased traffic, parking, and safety.
“We stand to be majorly impacted, no matter what is done,” said Mark Ciccone, who said his living room is just 40 feet from the back of one of the buildings. “The scale of Building C troubles us a lot. If you look at the back of that building, it’s half the length of a football field. I haven’t seen similar size and scale construction so close to a residential abutter. It’s highly uncommon to have something that big that close to us.”
Several housing advocates spoke in favor of the project.
“It’s in conformance with smart growth planning guidelines,” said Doug Ruskin, a former member of the Edgartown affordable housing committee. “There are a bunch of very good reasons why this works. I personally don’t think it’s appropriate to saddle a developer with the problems that any town has with traffic. The town has had ample opportunity to deal with the traffic. It’s a town problem, not a developer problem.”
The intertwined nature of small town politics and zoning was illustrated by a comment from planning board chairman Fred Mascolo, talking about how difficult it is for working families to live on Martha’s Vineyard. Mr. Mascolo is a real estate broker and owner of Trader Fred’s retail stores.
“I’m losing an assistant manager this week, who can’t find housing,” he said. “She’s going to leave the Island.”