New lumberyard proposed for Tisbury undergoes MVC review

Sullivan & Associates Architects developed a proposed model of the lumberyard building on High Point Lane, downhill from a new automotive garage. – Photo courtesy of the Martha's Vineyard Commission

Chris Dias, owner of Specialty Builders’ Supply, a lumberyard in Brewster, now serves Cape Cod, Eastern Massachusetts, and Martha’s Vineyard. To meet the Island demand for his products, he has decided to build a new lumberyard on the Vineyard, which is now in the permitting stage.

Mr. Dias is no newcomer. He was born on Martha’s Vineyard, and started working at his father’s lumberyard, Vineyard Builders Supply, at the age of 14. From 1989 to 2001, Mr. Dias managed a lumberyard on Cape Cod; then he started Specialty Builders’ Supply, where he sells engineered building materials for interior and exterior millwork, and has an onsite mill shop producing “architectural-quality woodwork.”

“My lumberyard is based on the Cape, but I have so many relationships — family and friends and builders that I’ve known through the years who live on the Vineyard — I was getting more and more calls to come down and meet what their needs are down here,” Mr. Dias told The Times in a phone conversation Monday.

His proposal for a new lumberyard on High Point Lane in Tisbury is currently under review by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) as a development of regional impact (DRI) because the building exceeds the 3,000-square-foot trigger on the DRI checklist. A continuation of the public hearing is scheduled for May 5.

The proposal calls for a 60-by-112-foot warehouse and a smaller 60-by-28-foot showroom and office located at the end of the road now used to access the Island Cove Mini Golf property off State Road. The MVC recently approved a proposal by Joe DeBettencourt, owner of Buddy’s Auto and Truck Repair in Oak Bluffs, to build a 5,100-square-foot, four-bay automotive garage on a half-acre lot off High Point Lane uphill from the proposed lumberyard. Both buildings would be located on the same 1.2-acre parcel of land.

Mr. Dias’ proposed building would be two stories tall facing High Point Lane and three stories tall on the interior of the site, which includes a warehouse space with stacking open to the ceiling. The building would also include a showroom in the basement, an office on the ground floor, and two apartments on the second floor.

The MVC is still considering several aspects of the project. The commission discussed a possible safety concern with truck traffic through the mini golf parking area, and recommended Mr. Dias work with the mini golf property owner to have the right of way delineated, via a physical separation, for example. Other points of discussion included whether the main access for the building should be from High Point Lane, the nitrogen-loading impact on the Tashmoo watershed, and if the building was too large for a small lot.

Vineyard roots

Mr. Dias owns a cottage on Chappaquiddick, and his extended family lives on the Vineyard. When his business first started serving the Island, he stayed overnight at his grandmother’s house. “I’m pretty tied into the Vineyard,” he said.

Originally, SBS was serving Martha’s Vineyard one day a week. Given the increased demand, employees now make seven trips a week, two salesmen work permanently on the Island in an Oak Bluffs office, and Mr. Dias stays on-Island at least two days a week.

“I just had people saying, ‘Can you do this, can you do that, we need this, when are you going to get a place,’” he said.

Currently, there are several other lumberyards on the Island, including Cottle’s Lumberyard locations on Lambert’s Cove Road and Edgartown Road, and Hinkley’s Ace Hardware and Vineyard Home Center in Vineyard Haven.

“We’re a contractor-only yard, so we only sell to builders and businesses,” Mr. Dias said. “That’s one of the things that makes us different. We focus only on the contractors.”

Asked when he would like to start construction, Mr. Dias did not hesitate: “Immediately,” he said. “The only way I make money is to have a business going, so I would start immediately.”

Mr. Dias said starting a business is expensive and stressful, but it isn’t his first time. SBS started as a one-man operation in a one-bay garage, and now has more than 30 employees. He said the MVC review process, which began last year, has been lengthy and detailed. “You’re continually maneuvering to find a way to fit in with what is being asked,” he said. But, he said, he hopes the process will conclude shortly, so he can begin work on his vision.

“Ultimately, it’s pretty simple,” he said. “I just want to run a business and make a living for my family.”