Protect Meetinghouse Way from development

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To the Editor:

As the year begins, I’d like to again bring before our community an ongoing issue that I believe deserves our attention as we envision the kind of sustainable and enduring environment we seek to create on the island. The issue I refer to is the still active proposal to build more than two dozen luxury houses in a fragile 54-acre woods in the Edgartown Great Pond watershed. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission has labeled this proposal DRI 682A, known as the Meetinghouse Way subdivision, and has had it before them since spring 2019. 

A subgroup of the commission, the LUPC, recommended denying the application for this proposal by a 7-2 margin in mid-October, but the commission as a whole has not deliberated and made a final decision. It is my understanding that the developer is working on an altered plan. Earlier alterations in plans submitted by the developer have not made meaningful changes in the enormous and disturbing scale of the plan. The location, an older-growth forest of oak and pitch pine, and meadows, would of course be changed for all time. Its role in assisting in carbon capture would also disappear.

Previous letters to the editor and reports in the local papers have laid out the compelling reasons for the widespread public opposition to this proposal. Building it would produce negative impacts on the environment, including the still-recovering Edgartown Great Pond, and the large-scale release of carbon and fossil fuel in its construction, on our roads, sewer, and other infrastructure, and on the community’s quality of life. On the other side of the argument, a developer makes an enormous profit, and the Vineyard gets more vacation homes.

On the east side of this 54-acre parcel, the town of Edgartown has been seeking to build affordable housing on 10 acres. Ideally, this will one day soon get built, and provide the kind of housing our Island truly needs. Also ideally, the 54 acres in question will one day become conservation land that benefits the entire public, and, even more important, the beleaguered environment. The parcel lies across the road from tracts of land preserved by Sheriff’s Meadow and the town of Edgartown. Adding these important acres to conservation in the future, perhaps through a partnership of the Land Bank, Sheriff’s Meadow, the town, and the developer, would create a crucial undeveloped natural corridor from the Great Pond to the village of Edgartown, a necessity for many species of wildlife, and would be a lasting green gift to future generations.

Please consider letting your respective MVC members know how poorly conceived and ecologically harmful this proposal is. The land is in one town, but protecting it from purely commercial ends is significant for our entire Island, and beyond. Our young people understand this. Are we ready to support their hopes in a future that benefits all, including our priceless natural world?

Jeff Agnoli
Edgartown