Big projects coming to MVC

Housing developments, a marina, a track and field, and a new battery facility to occupy MVC.

Four big projects are on the radar for the Martha's Vineyard Commission.

Among the many Developments of Regional Impact (DRI) headed to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) for review, four significant projects have the Island’s regional planning agency preparing for virtual public hearings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

During a Zoom conference meeting Thursday, MVC executive director Adam Turner briefed commissioners on the Meeting House Way, Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard, Eversource Battery facility, and Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School track projects.

No hearing dates have been set yet for any of the projects.

The 54-acre Edgartown subdivision dubbed Meeting House Way is one of the largest projects the MVC has reviewed. After several public hearings, various redesigns of the project’s layout, and a recommendation by the MVC’s Land Use Planning Committee (LUPC) to deny the project, the expansive project is set to come back to the commission. 

But the project is back with a new design. The size of some of the houses were reduced by 20 percent, but added four new units to its proposal for a total of 42. Of those, 14 units are townhouses priced under $400,000. Neighbors and the Edgartown planning board will be notified once the project heads back to the MVC.

New materials on the project have been submitted, but were not immediately available.

The commission has completed the staff report for the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard’s proposed redesign, which includes a 48-slip marina in the west arm of Lagoon Pond in Vineyard Haven, add new parking spaces, demolish two existing buildings and build a new one, and make other significant improvements to the existing facility on the Lagoon Pond side of Beach Road. Concerns have been raised by the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group and other stakeholders over the potentially negative effects the project will have on the environment.

The MVC also hired former Oak Bluffs shellfish constable David Grunden, who completed a report on Lagoon Pond. The LUPC has visited the site on the ground and may hold a site visit on the water.

After a lengthy process with the Oak Bluffs emergency management, the Eversource Battery facility has been referred to the MVC

The project is broken into two phases. The first phase will install a 4.9-megawatt lithium ion battery system in a 6,000-square-foot facility. The second phase will add 9.8 megawatts. The project was first proposed in February 2019.

The batteries are meant to offset the burden on Eversource backup generators in the event any of the four submarine cables feeding the Vineyard should fail. The project’s goal is to eliminate its diesel generators.

MVC staff are working with fire chiefs and have hired battery specialists as peer reviewers. Turner said a lot more information is needed on the project before moving forward.

The MVC has also completed its first portion of the staff report for the MVRHS track project, which is material submitted by the school.

After years of debate, the school is moving forward with its plan to install five new grass playing fields, with one synthetic turf infield, in order to accommodate the amount of usage the athletic campus sees. But the project has seen significant pushback from some on the Island who have raised concerns over the synthetic field, and whether it is environmentally responsible and in the best interest of student athletes.

Turner said the commission will have other DRIs, but these were “the four big ones” and the commission is exploring how to conduct virtual public hearings. He added that there is likely enough to begin the DRI process for the Meeting House Way and Shipyard projects such as LUPC review, but the Eversource facility and the track need more information 

“In the future when we sort of figure out if we are going to take hearings on these kinds of things we do have to establish some protocols and ways to do it and we’ll have to work with leadership,” Turner said.