Kennebec Avenue building project is referred to MVC
After lightheartedly declaring that he was "turning himself in" at the Oak Bluffs selectman's meeting Tuesday night, Alan Schweikert asked the board to refer his controversial building project on Kennebec Avenue to the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC).
Located behind The Lamp Post in downtown Oak Bluffs, the towering three-story building is currently under construction.
With only three of their four members present, the board voted unanimously to make the referral themselves, rather than ask the building inspector.
Selectman Roger Wey said there was some uncertainty regarding the square footage, and that a referral was necessary.
The three-story structure under construction on Kennebec Avenue in Oak Bluffs is over 35 feet tall. Photo by Ben Scott
"This is a big project and obviously we want to do it right with the right permits," Mr. Schweikert said to the board Tuesday night. "The last thing I want to do is be the subject of a controversy."
He said he does not plan to discontinue construction during the review process.
The property was purchased in 2005 for $330,000. Mr. Schweikert, a realtor, and his associates plan to use the building for two retail and four residential units.
In a telephone conversation yesterday, Mark London, MVC executive director, said to his knowledge the fact that the building contains six separate premises should have sparked an automatic referral to the MVC.
"I have no reason to believe that it was anything other than a misunderstanding that it wasn't referred here in the first place," Mr. London said.
Mr. Schweikert, a former selectman and commission member, said he has worked without difficulty with numerous other town boards, including the board of selectmen, throughout the construction process.
In other business, a lively debate ensued when Sharon Young, field director for the Humane Society of the United States, asked the board for permission to distribute literature during next month's Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament.
The Humane Society has been waging a public relations campaign to pressure the selectmen not to allow the tournament to continue to operate in Oak Bluffs.
Chairman Duncan Ross said his main concern was the litter that could result from passing out informational pamphlets. He suggested the group set up a booth people could approach for information.
"You could move around and talk to people and suggest they visit your booth. But don't hand them anything," Mr. Ross said.
Police Chief Erik Blake suggested they use Washington Park, across from the weigh station by Our Market, as a site for the booth.
Selectman Kerry Scott disagreed with the recommendation.
"I'm not crazy about that location," Ms. Scott said Tuesday. "It's pretty well established that the shark tournament is something that I don't favor. But I do favor equal opportunities, and I think Washington Park is a little bit distant. It's location, location, location."
Mr. Wey expressed a different concern, citing safety issues.
"I don't think you should be down in the park, I don't think you should be in the area," Mr. Wey said. "We're just looking for trouble."
Ms. Young said her group has absolutely no desire to confront anybody. "We're just asking for an opportunity to take advantage of public rights of way to educate the public," she said.
After much discussion Mr. Ross and Mr. Wey voted to allow the Humane Society to set up a booth at Post Office Square on the weekend of July 21. Ms. Scott voted no and the fourth member of the board, Greg Coogan, was absent.
A light moment occurred in an otherwise contentious meeting when Mark Wallace, owner of the Sand Bar and Grille, requested permission for his longtime friend to open Joey's Pizzeria on Circuit Avenue Extension.
Mr. Wallace said Joey Santarpio, the eldest son of the legendary East Boston restaurant family, will run the shop. Selectmen and audience members relayed fond memories of eating at Santarpio's in Boston, until Mr. Ross inquired, "is there a motion pertaining to the one in Oak Bluffs?" The board unanimously approved the pizza shop. The opening is scheduled for next week.