Meeting House Place project adds more affordable housing

One of the largest projects to go before the MVC, comes back with a redesign.

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A rendering of the affordable townhouses proposed by the project. — Courtesy MVC

The expansive Meeting House Way project headed back to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s (MVC) Land Use Planning Committee (LUPC) Monday night with an updated design, including additional affordable housing units.

The project, which has received significant pushback from Island residents, conservationists, and stakeholders, has gone through several significant redesigns since it was first presented to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission over a year ago

The 54-acre property was purchased for $6.6 million in June 2017 by developers Douglas K. Anderson and Richard G. Matthews, operating as Meeting House Way LLC. Their listed address is in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Concerns over the project — one of the largest the commission has reviewed — include potential impact on traffic conditions, Island urbanization, nitrogen loading, and animal habitat loss. 

In September, when the project was last in front of the LUPC, the MVC’s subcommittee voted to recommend the full commission deny the project.

In its current form, the project proposes to establish 30 acres as open space and develop the other 20-odd acres with 28 single-family homes and a cluster of affordable townhouses.

The latest change to the project was to add four additional affordable townhouses, for a total of 14. The cluster of below-market-rate townhouses would be dedicated to first-time homebuyers and empty nesters, elderly people who have lived on the Island for 15-plus years, but are looking to downsize. In addition to the townhouses, the project also calls for a 1 percent fee to the Edgartown affordable housing committee on any future sale of the development’s other homes, and a flat $1 million contribution.

On Monday, project attorney Sean Murphy told commissioners the price for the townhouses dropped to 10 units at $389,000 and four at $359,000. “They will be the lowest priced real estate on Martha’s Vineyard,” Murphy said.

Prices for the townhouses were based on construction costs, and Murphy said the developers would be breaking even on them.

The townhouses would have a separate homeowners association.

The 28 single-family houses would be spaced out on ½-acre to 1-acre lots, and would be allowed a maximum of five bedrooms. Houses would be limited to 3,800 square feet. Garages are optional, and would be permitted a 400-square-foot living space above, which would be added to the bedroom count. The project also calls for the single-family houses to incorporate SmartFlower solar arrays.

The LUPC took no vote on the project. The project heads to the full commission on June 4 at 5:30 pm.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Stop this enormous development! People are trying to make a profit off of our beautiful island. Makes me sick! Traffic and too many people are already a problem here. These developers do not care about anything but lining their pockets. The island is becoming urbanized and it is so sad. Leave it alone. We have enough people and homes here. We need and appreciate the clean environment and the wild spaces. Please deny this project.

  2. If there was ever a time to say thank you to our teachers, nurses, policemen, firefighters and all first responders it is now. The 14 affordable homes offer for first time home buyers On island by the builder is much needed to keep our teachers and first responders on island and give them an affordable home of their own. This builder offer is in addition to the already generous affordable housing offer of $1.1M and 1% on all future home sales. It’s time to say yes to getting this much needed housing to those most in need on island and not shut out our our workers and retired people to affordable and new housing. This is a generous offer and we should show our teachers nurses and firefighters that the Commission cares about their housing and approve the project and not let it slip away.

  3. Obama paid twice as much for his house and it didnt become a realestate development. Six houses on 6 million dollars of property might not do too much damage to the island and waste treatment system we have. Edgartown dont need this.

      • The island is overbuilt. Farmlands and woods put nitrogen loading to good use. Without them we would have to have a wastewater plant twice the size we have now with everyone hooked up. I think the dynamic will change with this virus, we wont need housing.

      • Their incomes won’t qualify for this “affordable housing” only those with well paid town and state jobs will be able to. It’s saying something when a teacher and a cop making over 100,000.00 per year together can qualify for affordable housing. That’s the problem that needs to be addressed. The person making 50,000 or 60,000 doesn’t have a prayer.

  4. These developers will try, try and try again until they wear you down and we rationalize our own greed! It is sadly humorous how they mask a 4200 sq ft residence by calling it 3800 sq ft with a 400 sq ft option….which most buyers in this price range will opt for. Also, the segregation of the low cost units via a separate HO association speaks volumes as the the developers view of of islands social integration. And finally, I continue to believe that all development projects should stand on their specific attributes and this “ blackmail” money contribution to housing funds is just another form of legalized corruption. By the way, if the developers state the the low income housing will be built at a breakeven cost, be sure you understand their definition of breakeven because “other SG & A” will suddenly appear in the final calculation.

  5. There is a lot going on, but let’s keep watch over this ill-advised, foolish attempt to grab some money from our dwindling natural resources. There is no justifiable reason for this luxury, second-home development, other than greed. The token offer of “affordable” townhouses is just that. The developers are also trying to get around their failure to account for the massive nitrogen impacts of the sprawling plan by “generously” offering to sewer houses on an adjoining road, Hotchkiss Lane, without which they cannot come close to the required nitrogen offset. The Edgartown sewer plant capacity is needed for existing houses to eventually come on line, and thus help protect our just beginning to recover Great Pond. The traffic impact alone from this development, 28 houses with up to 4200 sq ft and 14 townhouses, is reason enough for the MVC to deny it. Add to this the loss of precious near-coastal woodland, the years-long noise impact and the carbon explosion from all the construction, the drain on our water supply, the hastening of suburbanization and social inequality, and the rationale for it is even weaker. There are plans by Edgartown to build a real affordable development on one side of this 54-acre parcel, on 10 acres of town property. That makes sense, and sewer capacity for it, and other essential needs, comes before more Mcmansions. The MVC is holding a public meeting on this June 4th at 5:30 pm. If interested, please familiarize yourself with the extensive public comments already online at the Commission’s website. These are listed under the DRI 682B title. Also, please consider writing to the Commission to let them know of your opposition to this potential damage to the island, and consider attending the public hearing. Going forward through our current crisis, we are wise to heed the clear messages our young people are sending. They know “business as usual” is no longer acceptable. Let’s start on a new path for the island, one that is more equitable and sustainable, for their, and the beleaguered environment’s, sake.

    • Your facts are not correct. Their proposal calls for hooking up 10-12 existing homes that are currently on septic. In fact they meet the town requirements and exceed those. The builder has 1/2 lots on average. There are hundreds of half acre lots in subdivision all around that area and large. That’s not exactly mcManson. The project summary says it has a significant amount of solar incorporated. They have very high energy standards incorporated probably more than any homes on our island. It’s about time to allow good projects like to move forward. Somebody built your home and no you don’t want any more people live as you do. Hypocritical to say the least. Always not in my back yard after you have yours. The affordable housing component alone is reason to approve this modest project. Come on people. Your approach and attitude is driving our home prices through the roof and making homes unaffordable in MV. Approve the project

  6. I don’t care whether this project is approved or not but can anyone above justify living in their home, most likely the result of a developer, then condemn this developer. I got mine so let’s block others? That’s extreme hypocrisy.

    • Agreed. For all the naysayers your neighbors probably were not happy when your house was built. If you care so much about “poor Martha” sell your house to someone needy for a fraction of it’s worth and then move away. You’ll be doing the right thing and you can live with that righteous self worth as you enjoy your life in Akron or maybe Des Moines.

    • The island is overbuilt it has to stop somewhere. Id love to be hooked up to the wastewater plant. Build as many homes as you want after the seweage situation is taken care of.

  7. It can be about saving the old island feel or saving the last woodlands or saving the water and shellfish we need, it could also be about saving the value of island real estate. Green lighting projects like this will make the Vineyard like any other real estate market out there. Over development will hurt real estate values here, don’t think otherwise. This project will be another nail in the coffin that is end of the old island where we are reincarnated into the Hamptons, where they have trailer parks next to $10M homes on 1 acre lots.

    Affordable housing will not fix the core issues of the housing crisis, we fit 100,000 people here in the summer but can’t seem to fit 17,000 islanders, Housing stock is not the problem and building more housing will not be the solution. Islanders don’t live here to live in subsidized housing where they can’t benefit from the appreciation on the land that they live on. Please deny this proposal and think creatively about housing on this island, this project is not the island I’ve known. Ever since Bach got his castle and developments like Edgartown Estates were allowed, it seems like Edgartown wants a 3,500 sf Ahearn gambrel roof on every corner. But hey the taxes will go to zero and we can keep wasting millions on shellfish restoration projects!

  8. This project is just wrong in so many ways. If it goes through then so will the next one and the next one and so on. The line needs to be drawn before it’s to late. Yes we need affordable housing but this is not a fair trade.

  9. We need affordable housing? Upscale housing is better for the Island. High end housing creates jobs, the habitants pay our taxes and don’t fill our schools, and they are only here two months a year so less traffic and pollution. Affordable housing populates our schools which raises taxes, year Round living That increases pollution and traffic, and what about the offspring? Sorry but affordable hurts the island. If we run out of workers from lack of housing then that alone will stop expansion

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