South Mountain looks to expand

The existing and proposed plans for South Mountain's expansion. — Courtesy MVC

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) closed a public hearing Friday on South Mountain Co.’s proposed expansion project.

Co-owned by John Abrams, South Mountain is a West Tisbury based engineering, building, and renewable energy firm that provides architectural services on the Island. Their project proposes to add lumber storage, a solar component storage, five new parking spaces, and increase the number of allowed employees from 18 to 24. If approved, the project would expand South Mountain’s commercial use by 33 percent.

South Mountain was approved in 1998 by the MVC and the West Tisbury Zoning Board of Appeals as a mixed use 40B, a state statute that allows local zoning boards to approve affordable housing developments under flexible rules if at least 20 to 25 percent of the units have long-term affordability restrictions. In 2004, South Mountain was approved for a 2,700 square foot expansion, 2,300 of which was actually built.

The reason the Chapter 40B permit was allowed was because of the affordable housing component the company built. As per the expansion, South Mountain’s affordable housing contribution expands as well. Abrams proposed a $150,000 contribution or equivalent in pro bono services to one or more affordable housing projects within the next three years. South Mountain would chose the project with final approval from the MVC. Abrams arrived at $150,000 by taking South Mountain’s original $300,000 contribution to affordable housing in 1998 and taking 33 percent out of that, which is $100,000. Adjusted for inflation it would be a $150,000 contribution.

Despite an increased number of employees, the MVC was not concerned about traffic, feeling the impacts would be minimal. A nearby homeowners association, however, disagreed.

Byron Hartley, who lives down the road from South Mountain is a member of the Vineyard Property Association. He said Abrams was a “good neighbor,” but expressed fear about traffic at the intersection of Stoney Hill Road, State Road, and Buttonwood Farm Road.

“We view this as a major increase; it’s doubling the size of South Mountain Company,” Hartley said. “We do have issues with that.”

Commissioners closed the public hearing, but left the written record open for another week.

In other business, commissioners held a public hearing for a renovation project at Carroll’s Trucking. Carroll’s is proposing to replace scattered trailer storage with a new, self-serve storage building, renovate the existing buildings fronting Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, and other site improvements.

Commissioners continued the hearing to next month.