Martha's Vineyard Commission approves the Pennywise Project
Citing the growing need for low and moderate income housing, the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) voted unanimously on July 22, to approve the Pennywise Path affordable housing project in Edgartown.
Along with approving the 60 mixed-income rental unit subdivision, the commissioners imposed a hefty list of conditions, including restrictions on residency requirements, lighting, and access to the development.
The project was before the MVC as a Chapter 40B development. The project must now go before the Edgartown zoning board of appeals for a special permit.
The Community Builders Inc. (TCB), a non-profit housing developer based in Boston that the town of Edgartown chose last year to build and manage the subdivision, hopes to begin construction on the project sometime next year.
Last week's MVC meeting began on a positive note for the town and the developer when Jane Greene, commissioner from Chilmark, made a motion early on to approve the Pennywise Project with conditions. Richard Toole, commissioner from Oak Bluffs, seconded the motion.
After debating the conditions to place on the project for nearly three hours, the commissioners discussed the benefits and detriments of the project before finally voting.
The single benefit overwhelmingly cited by the commissioners was that the project created much needed affordable housing. The primary detriment was the impact the development would have on surrounding neighborhoods, particularly the homeowners on 12th Street, the single access road into the subdivision.
"I think it is a reasonably well designed and executed project that meets the single most overwhelming need of the year-round community on Martha's Vineyard The major detriment, one that we have all struggled with, is it is going to have a horrible impact on 12th Street," said Doug Sederholm, Chilmark MVC member.
"But the benefits clearly outweigh the detriments," he added.
Megan Ottens-Sargent, Aquinnah commissioner, said, "I agree that the benefits clearly outweigh the detriments."
Linda Sibley, MVC member from West Tisbury, said, "We have never had a 60-unit affordable housing project on the Vineyard before, and a lot of people feel this isn't the kind of solution they would like, but the very forces that created the problem of so many people unable to find affordable housing, and the wildly irrational price of land has forced solutions that are not typical."
John Breckenridge, MVC member from Oak Bluffs, agreed.