Housing Trust’s Kuehn’s Way project looks for Tisbury health board OK

The proposed site for the Kuehn's way affordable housing units. — Philippe Jordi

Island Housing Trust (IHT) says it anticipates the Tisbury board of health’s approval of septic and well plans for Kuehn’s Way, a 20-unit, $6.3 million affordable housing project, later this month, according to Philippe Jordi, IHT executive director.

The project, sited off State Road, was unanimously approved by the Martha’s Vineyard Commision (MVC) and the Tisbury zoning board of appeals (ZBA). Several abutters appealed the approval in November. At that time, Mr. Jordi said, abutters appealed the project as a whole, mainly due to its density, the traffic it would create, and its water quality issues. IHT had reduced the number of units from an earlier plan for what was called Bridge Commons, which had 30 units.

IHT worked hard to mitigate and minimize impacts on neighbors, according to Mr. Jordi. On Friday, in a conversation with The Times, he said he foresees no new issues at the meeting with the board of health later this month, and that the IHT plans exceeds wastewater regulation requirements.

“We’ve agreed to various terms and conditions that the MVC had on that specific issue, and the testing and the thresholds we have to meet,” Mr. Jordi said.

The project falls under Chapter 40B of state law, which allows affordable housing projects like Kuehn’s Way to receive waivers to bypass certain requirements, in this case allowing a higher density and rate of development. IHT did not ask for waivers regarding wastewater issues.

Mr. Jordi said that as long as IHT meets board of health requirements, the project may move forward with permits for its septic and wells plans.

“Why did they appeal something that we didn’t ask waivers for?” Mr. Jordi said. “The waivers were simply for the question of density, and it didn’t have anything to do with the septic and the impacts on their wells.”

If abutters pursue their appeal, a hearing will ultimately be necessary. IHT gets free legal services from Boston law firm Nixon Peabody. The abutters’ attorney is Daniel Hill of Cambridge.

Because of the pending appeal, IHT cannot apply for state grants, so the project relies for funding on local support, community preservation act (CPA) funds from last year, and CPA funds from Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, and Chilmark this year.

“We’re hoping we get this behind us in the fall so we can apply for other funding sources,” Mr. Jordi said.