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Opposition forms as early word surfaces of West Tisbury housing developmentNo application has been filed, no plans have been drawn, but opposition has already surfaced to oppose the development of a 16.8-acre parcel between Stoney Hill Road and Great Plains Road in West Tisbury.
Michael Jampel of Tisbury, who owns the land, has had informal discussions with the town planning board and the affordable housing committee. He has not filed an application for permits, and he says he does not have any definitive plans for the project.
Mr. Jampel told The Times Tuesday that some component of the project would include affordable housing.
Although there are no formal plans, an unsigned flyer mailed last week to residents of nearby neighborhoods carried a warning of large scale development.
The flyer, titled "Stoney Hill/Great Plains Alert," reads, "To all residents of Stoney Hill Road and Great Plains Road neighborhoods: Plans are currently underway for a major (40 house) project which will impact all residents in Stoney Hill and Great Plains area. Located on approximately 19 acres on Stoney Hill Road near Willow Farm and bordering the Great Plains neighborhood, the project would introduce a level of housing density, congestion, and environmental impact unprecedented in the town of West Tisbury.
"All concerned neighbors should begin now to consider the effect of this project on both your individual properties and our rural environment, and should actively express your views to the town and to the Martha's Vineyard Commission."
The one-page flyer was unsigned and there was no indication of who wrote or distributed it. Mr. Jampel said he had seen the flyer and did not know who sent it.
Mr. Jampel said the only tangible step he has taken toward developing the land is to have it surveyed. He was not surprised to see opposition forming so quickly.
"I haven't seen anything built on the Island without opposition. People don't want to see change," Mr. Jampel commented in a telephone interview. "The next step might be to meet with the neighbors, find out what sort of input they might want to have. It's counterproductive if you meet, and they say, 'We don't want anything there.' The neighbors that have been there a long time might have some good ideas."
Mr. Jampel, a former dentist turned developer, has built more than 150 units "of affordable housing" on the Vineyard, by his estimate.
Mr. Jampel was before the West Tisbury affordable housing committee on April 24, and again on September 11, according to minutes of the committee. He attended the West Tisbury Planning Board meeting on August 27.
Mr. Jampel says his sessions with town boards were an attempt to determine what kind of development is feasible, inform the board members about how the plans are evolving, and learn more about zoning requirements.
According to the affordable housing committee meeting minutes, there is now one home on the 16.8-acre parcel, with access through Trotters Lane, which is off Great Plains Road. The current access is not feasible, however, for a larger development. Mr. Jampel is considering development of a 2.9-acre abutting parcel, which could include two homes, in addition to the home that is already there. The smaller lot is off Stoney Hill Road. Part of development on the smaller parcel would be a road providing access to the larger development.
For the larger parcel, he is considering a 40B development. State laws would allow exceptions to local zoning regulations, if at least 20-25 percent of the units were affordable now and into the future. Under 40B guidelines, it is estimated there would be enough room on the parcel to build 36 additional two-bedroom homes. More homes could be built if some of them are one-bedroom homes.
Mr. Jampel is also exploring whether to build under West Tisbury's open land bylaw. Under that bylaw, at least 20 percent of the homes must be affordable, and the town planning board follows guidelines of one acre per home. Those guidelines would allow 16 additional homes. Housing density and other factors could be negotiated, according to the meeting minutes.
Mr. Jampel is also considering the possibility of combining the two lots, and how that might affect the number of homes that could be built.
"That's a big decision, which way do you want to go," said Mr. Jampel. "No matter what you do, you have to go to the [Martha's Vineyard] Commission."