Revised, Bradley Square plan approved
The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) approved modifications to the Bradley Square affordable housing development by a vote of 12-0, with one abstention, at its meeting on February 19.
The new plan would reduce the height of the buildings and the number of units, as well as increase the amount of on-site parking, compared to the plan approved by the Martha's Vineyard Commission in June of last year.
The only question before the commission was whether the modifications made the project better or worse. "There are many ways in which I prefer the original plan," said vice-chairman Linda Sibley of West Tisbury. "But there's a problem. The original plan forces much of the parking onto the street and therefore impacts the neighborhood."
Newly elected commissioner Holly Stephenson of Tisbury criticized the plan. "The development appears to be a very intense development, with large impacts on the neighborhood," she said. "They've turned it into more or less a giant parking lot. This is not a place where children would like to live." In a phone conversation with The Martha's Vineyard Times yesterday, Ms. Stephenson said she abstained from the final vote because most of the debate over the Bradley Square plan took place before she was elected to the commission.
The plan was approved with a long list of conditions, including a provision to save several shade trees that abut local streets, and a limit of two evening events per week at the community center planned as part of the development, with no more than 30 people per event.
The latest approval comes after more than two years of public meetings, public hearings, and regulatory review.
The Island Housing Trust, along with the Island Affordable Housing Fund and builder John Early, are the applicants for the project. According to the applicants, the Bradley Square design committee held a series of 10 advertised public meetings seeking public opinion on the project between September 2007 and January 2008.
That was followed by six public hearings over a period of four months before the Martha's Vineyard Commission. Then came a series of five public hearings and meetings at the Oak Bluffs zoning board of appeals (ZBA). In the middle of the ZBA review, a committee of concerned citizens was formed. In a series of seven mediated sessions, that committee negotiated with the applicants for a number of modifications in the Bradley Square plan. The modifications survived a funding challenge on the floor of a special town meeting in December 2008, when voters decided overwhelmingly to reject an attempt to rescind $400,000 in Community Preservation Act funds voted by the annual town meeting earlier that year. The measure was defeated, though several members of the concerned citizens committee withdrew support for the compromise plan they helped negotiate, and spoke in favor of rescinding the funds on the town meeting floor.
The Martha's Vineyard Commission held a public hearing on the modified plan earlier this month, leading to last Thursday's vote. The new plan is due for review next by the Oak Bluffs ZBA.
In other action, the Martha's Vineyard Commission held a public hearing on a controversial proposal for a commercial vehicle parking lot at 90 Dr. Fisher Road in West Tisbury. The land is zoned as a light industrial district. Peter Williams, who owns the land, has been in a protracted dispute with the West Tisbury planning board over allowed use of the lot. The town's zoning inspector issued a cease and desist order after Mr. Williams clear-cut part of the lot, and began renting space to Allied Waste Services, which stored several dumpsters there. He submitted a proposal to the West Tisbury planning board to allow a commercial parking area for 20 trucks, 15 trailers, and 10 pieces of equipment. The planning board referred Mr. Williams's proposal to the Martha's Vineyard Commission, but by the time the commissioners opened the public hearing, Mr. Williams had changed the proposal to a commercial parking area for 50 trucks, 25 trailers, and 20 pieces of equipment.