A long road to MVC approval for Hart Hardware
The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) recently approved an application from Jim Hart to construct a building to house a plumbing business, hardware store, and two apartments on Indian Hill Road in West Tisbury.
The project triggered MVC review as a development of regional impact (DRI) because of a change in use from an office building to the combination commercial and residential facility. The property is located in a mixed-use business district on Indian Hill Road close to up-Island Cronig's, the Post Office, and Fella's.
The West Tisbury Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) granted Mr. Hart a variance with conditions in 2001 to allow a 22,000 square-foot mixed-use building on the grandfathered pre-existing, non-conforming, 20,000-square-foot lot. The ZBA approved Mr. Hart's plans for a two-story building with a basement, with offices on the first floor, with the provision that if he should decide to add an apartment upstairs or use the basement for anything other than storage, it would trigger an MVC referral.
After the ZBA's approval, Mr. Hart said he later decided he did not really want to run an office building and did not think one at that location would be viable. Instead, he decided he would like to move his business, Hart Heating and Plumbing, from its current location in a Vineyard Haven business district on Breakdown Lane to his West Tisbury property.
Mr. Hart said he thought a hardware store would prove more useful up-Island and would complement his plumbing business. He also plans for one of the two second-floor apartments to be permanently deed-restricted to remain affordable, most likely for an employee.
As Mr. Hart's project evolved, it met with several delays along the way. The West Tisbury Planning Board referred the project to the MVC for DRI review in May 2006 because of the change of use for the building. The business's potential impact on traffic, as the first one to utilize Indian Hill Road as its only access, also concerned the planning board.
The MVC did not vote to concur with the referral to review the project as a DRI until October. The MVC's initial planning concerns included wastewater, effects on the local economy, and visual impact on the mostly residential neighborhood on Indian Hill Road. The commission held a public hearing on the project on December 14, which was closed the same night.
In January the LUPC voted to recommend the project's approval at the next MVC meeting. However, in a surprising turn of events during the MVC's February 15 meeting, the commissioners voted to reopen the public hearing on March 8.
The sticking point for the MVC proved not to be the change in use for the building but rather a service road that wraps around it. Because Mr. Hart's lot is narrow, the service road bumps up against the abutter's lot line.
To mitigate the impacts, Mr. Hart offered to limit the use of the service drive to delivery trucks no larger than 24 feet, no more than twice a week, and for company trucks. In addition, his landscaping plan includes a 10-ft vegetative buffer along 90 percent of the perimeter of the property.
Mr. Hart also included offers to utilize a denitrification wastewater treatment system, and to submit a stormwater control and erosion and sedimentation control plan to address the potential for erosion along the eastern property line.
To further address traffic concerns, Mr. Hart agreed to grant an easement in the future if West Tisbury decides it wants to connect his property to other lots or easements.
With the MVC's approval on March 8, Mr. Hart will go back to the West Tisbury ZBA for another review, back where he began with what started as plans for a two-bedroom house in April 2000.