Edgartown planning board plots a slow and steady course for Stop and Shop expansion project

New plan is to completely renovate and remodel existing store.

An aerial view of the Stop and Shop in Edgartown. —MV Times File Photo

In the next step toward an ambitious expansion of the Edgartown Stop and Shop, the planning board began considering an application for a special permit to increase the size of the current store. The board heard an overview from store officials at the Tuesday, Nov. 1, public hearing that included plans to increase sales space from 17,000 to 30,000 square feet, and the number of parking spaces from 140 to 200. The planning board will hold another public hearing on Dec. 6 that will consider traffic and parking concerns. Stop and Shop initially met with the Edgartown planning board in October 2015 to discuss the proposed expansion.

Stop and Shop planning and project manager Lisa Davis told the board they were “excited to be back” after a busy year in which they considered the concerns presented to them last October. Ms. Davis told the planning board and other Edgartown officials at the meeting that during the past year, Stop and Shop has studied traffic flow, energy efficiency, landscaping, and parking, and they’ve been in discussions with the Edgartown National Bank — acquired by Rockland Trust just days ago. The bank, located on the store’s property, does not appear on the most recent conceptual site plan unveiled at Tuesday’s meeting.

Before laying out the new plan, Ms. Davis went through a few of the issues with the current store.

“There’s one point of ingress and egress, there’s not sufficient shelf space and food is stored on the floor, prep areas are not large enough and are missing some sinks, there’s not a connection between the two buildings on the site, aisles are narrow, there’s not enough checkout, and the restroom is tired.”

Then she said the new plan is to completely renovate and remodel the current store. The pharmacy that’s now situated at the Triangle will be relocated inside the new store, Ms. Davis said. Loading docks will be expanded, with a new dock added at the rear of the store on the west side of the addition.

“We’ll add a florist, a natural-foods area, the bakery area will be doubled, the seafood area tripled, the aisles will be wider, there will be a new restroom,” she said. In addition, new energy-efficient HVAC will be installed, and a new manager’s office and customer service area will be included. And, she said, the store would remain open during the expansion.

Planning board member Robert Sparks asked Ms. Davis how many cashiers would be added to the store. “There are 11 now,” she said. “There will be a total of 14, including six self-checkout spaces.”

Stop and Shop consultant Greg O’Brien said, “We’ve been knocking on doors, talking to neighbors and businesses, and there seems to be quite a bit of support in the community, not to say people won’t have comments and concerns.”

Mr. O’Brien said on Tuesday they had presented a petition for a couple of hours outside the Edgartown store, and had gathered more than 200 signatures from customers in favor of the expansion.

Engineering and design company Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. (VHB) is overseeing expansion plans. David Taglianetti, engineer for the project, said a traffic study would be submitted to both the planning board and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) by Nov. 22. He said that the conceptual plan conforms to Edgartown’s B-II business district guidelines, and that the number of trucks moving in and out at the location would change very little. Mr. Taglianetti addressed parking and vehicle circulation, saying that with the additional 60 parking spaces, “You won’t see vehicles circling the lot.”

Island architect Chuck Sullivan is working with Stop and Shop on the design. He said he plans to keep the exterior of the building in the “architectural style of the town.”

“We’ll update materials, introduce some brick and solid trim to get it to blend into the town better than the existing building,” Mr. Sullivan said at the hearing.

Planning board assistant Georgiana Greenough voiced some concerns over how the new store might impact community members.

“Now there’s no place to sit for the elderly who are waiting to get picked up,” Ms. Greenough said. “If carts were moved to the inside, there would be more space outside.”

Edgartown selectman Michael Donaroma spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting. He voiced the selectmen’s support for the project, but advised the planning board to take its time.

“We think this is an enormous project,” Mr. Donaroma said, “something the town could use if it’s done properly. Though the selectmen think it’s a big project — probably the biggest project we’ll ever see — the selectmen basically support you guys trying to get this to work.”

He also said he didn’t want to see the Edgartown project turn out the way previous expansion plans went a couple of years ago when Stop and Shop ended up withdrawing its proposal to update the Vineyard Haven store, following intense opposition to the building design.

“The selectmen say, ‘Take your time and make it work,’” he told the planning board. Mr. Donaroma added that promises aren’t always kept.

“You need to put it in writing,” he told them. “Get things in writing with conditions that are enforceable. Get them to give you the things you want.”

He also said as a landscaper, he has an issue with keeping the landscaping as it is.

“Don’t be afraid about saving the existing trees. Have them come back with a real landscape plan,” he said.

Mr. Donaroma reminded the board of the town’s business master plan, saying if the proposed building didn’t include more planting and landscaping, it would end up “looking like a Walmart.”

Planning board members brought up issues such as snow removal and noise remediation, with planning board member Fred Mascolo suggesting a noise-reducing fence so that the sound from refrigeration units is carried upward rather than out in the direction of neighboring homes. Bill Chapman from the Edgartown water department encouraged the Stop and Shop representatives to meet with him regarding reconfiguring water lines. Neighboring business owner Jim Carter expressed some concerns about all the businesses already on the town’s sewer lines at the Upper Main Street location. A few Stop and Shop neighbors attended the hearing, and expressed concerns about the noise level and the view they have of the back of the store.

MVC executive director Adam Turner spoke at the completion of the hearing and told the planning board that the public hearing was “exactly what we want.” He invited the planning board to attend the MVC meetings after the plan is referred to them.

Local attorney for Stop and Shop Geoghan Coogan admitted in a telephone call after the meeting that plans for the Edgartown store were “less complicated” than the plans for the Vineyard Haven store.

“There are less complicated factors with this site,” he said. “It’s a little less intrusive where this spot is, in comparison to where the Vineyard Haven store is. In Edgartown, it’s pretty straightforward. We’re not removing a historical house and working with a town parking lot.” He said the store at the Edgartown location has been embraced, and that the town realizes its importance for the Island community.

Stop and Shop consultant Greg O’Brien told The Times that they had learned a lot from the experience in Vineyard Haven, and the company is hoping this proposed expansion “gets it right.”

“We look forward to working with the Edgartown planning board and the MVC, and we want to build something that works for the community and for Stop and Shop,” Mr. O’Brien said, adding, “and we respect the process.”