DRI process raises election issues
Several recent high-profile projects brought before the Martha's Vineyard Commission as developments of regional impact (DRI) have highlighted some of the issues of time, cost, and local versus regional regulatory authority raised by the MVC process.
In response to a lack of affordable housing for his employees and friends, Bill Bennett, a local electrical contractor, conceived of an owner-financed project to subdivide an area zoned for three-acre lots, off Watcha Path Road in Edgartown, into 11 one-acre lots containing affordable housing. On Dec. 8, 2005, the MVC voted 9-3 in favor of the Cozy Hearth development. The approval ended a seven month process and came with some stringent conditions on deed restrictions, wastewater systems, and housing design features.
On Feb. 9, 2006, the MVC approved the World Revival Church's plans for a new building off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs to accommodate their growing Brazilian congregation.
The church plan was approved with 36 conditions that included limiting church services to no more than three times per week with an average of one special activity a month, not producing commercial food products in the kitchen, and providing a revised landscaping plan for final MVC approval. According to church leaders, between fees, lawyers, architects and other costs, completing the MVC review process cost the church approximately $70,000.
In December 2005, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and her husband, Edwin Schlossberg, proposed a subdivision estate plan for the 366-acre property known as Red Gate Farm in Aquinnah, designed to protect and preserve the property for their children.
The proposal had overwhelming support from town zoning and conservation officials. The MVC approval process for Red Gate Farm consumed approximately five months and spanned seven meetings. Attorney Richard Renehan, representing Ms. Kennedy said of the process, "At the end of the day you need a commission, but it could be a happier process than it is now. And I say that with great respect for the many knowledgeable people who give a lot of time to the process."
In September, two projects raised debate about local versus regional regulatory control. The MVC voted not to designate Edgartown's Mullen Way neighborhood as a District of Critical Planning Concern (DCPC). That same month the commissioners voted not to review a proposed 15,573-square-foot single-family house in West Tisbury as a development of regional impact (DRI).