Island Plan forum focus is development
When it comes to development and growth, what one person considers a neighborhood may represent another person's idea of urban sprawl. How much, where, and how the Vineyard should grow will be the focus of an Island Plan public forum on development and growth on Aug. 22, at 7:30 pm, at the West Tisbury Agricultural Hall.
The Island Plan is a multi-year effort by the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC), the Vineyard's regional planning and regulatory agency, to create a blueprint for Island development and change. Next week's forum is one of six to be held this summer to provide year-round and seasonal residents the opportunity to learn about and participate in the continuing planning work.
MVC executive director Mark London anticipates the development and growth forum will be the biggest because of the topic's appeal to a broad mix of people, and the fact it will likely cover new ground, unlike the other forums, which dealt mainly with reports from Island Plan working groups.
The forum's speaker panel includes Jim Athearn, chair of the Island Plan steering committee and owner of Morning Glory Farm; Tom Chase, director of the Nature Conservancy's islands program; Henry Stephenson, an architect and Tisbury planning board co-chairman; and Kurt Gaertner, director of land use policy for the Commonwealth's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
MVC studies show that construction accounts for about 9 percent of Vineyard jobs and 17 percent of businesses. "Even though we don't have an on-Island developer on the panel, we thought we had a good range of different points of view, and we hope we will be getting developers to attend - and encourage them to attend," Mr. London said.
The forum is about all of the impacts of development, Mr. London said, including what it looks like from the road and from the coast, the impact on traffic and energy, and its effects on neighborhoods.
"When it comes to development, we often focus on trophy houses," Mr. London said. "But knowing how much of construction is new, how much is renovation, how much of new construction is on undeveloped land, and how much is tear-down on existing properties, will take us many months to start getting a better idea of that."
Mr. London said he hopes many attend next week's forum and "start the conversation."