Edgartown planning board delays decision on triangle lofts apartments

The Edgartown planning board is considering a special permit to allow eight loft units in two of the buildings in the triangle business area. — Photo by Steve Myrick

The Edgartown planning board closed the public hearing on a project to build eight second-story loft apartments in the triangle business area, but they delayed a decision on developer Charles Hajjar’s application for a special permit.

At a special meeting on July 24, the five-member board concluded reading 47 letters into the record and took more testimony from abutters. The board counted seven letters in favor of the project, and 40 letters against.

The tension over the contentious plan spilled over when planning board member Robert Sparks read a letter from Joanne Ryan into the record. Ms. Ryan’s letter was in the form of several questions asking why the board was still considering the project. One line in the letter taxed the patience of Mr. Sparks.

“Does someone on the board have special interests?” Mr. Sparks read from the letter. “I’m not going to finish this,” he said, tossing the letter aside, clearly offended.

A rumble of objection rose from the packed hearing room, mostly filled with abutters who oppose the project. Chairman Fred Mascolo cut off the revolt in stern tones.

“This is not going to turn into a crowd that is out of control, nor is the board going to be out of control,” Mr. Mascolo said. “Let’s not get into these lynch mob tactics, this is not the way we run a meeting.”

Mr. Mascolo then finished reading the letter into the record, and offered his own comment.

“Well I can tell you I don’t have a special interest, and I’m assuming nobody else does,” he said.

He turned to board member Michael McCourt, who manages Murdick’s Fudge.

“Are you going to sell fudge there,” Mr. Mascolo asked, then turned to Robert Cavallo, owner of Edgartown Paint Shoppe. “Are you going to sell paint there?”

Both answered no, and the meeting continued.

After the end of the public hearing, the board questioned Mr. Hajjar and his attorney, Sean Murphy, about several aspects of the project. Mr. Murphy cited a traffic study done by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

“There are 12,400 cars a day that go through the triangle,” Mr. Murphy told the board. “This would add 16 trips a day, or something like that. It has no effect on the traffic.”

Several board members said they did not see any impact from increased traffic, the focus of much objection from opponents of the project.

The planning board will resume its deliberations at its next regular meeting on Tuesday, August 5.