Hob Knob Inn wants to expand, but some neighbors are saying it’s just too much.
On Thursday, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission continued a public hearing for the Hob Knob Inn expansion to July 16, to allow time for a traffic study.
Attorney Sean Murphy and architect Patrick Ahearn presented the commission with the proposed expansion at the boutique hotel and spa in downtown Edgartown. Currently the inn features 17 rooms, with a basement spa and fitness area.
The project has two parts. The first is at the existing property on 128 Upper Main St., and consists of constructing three new guest rooms and enlarging the existing spa with a larger fitness room and four new treatment rooms. Parking in the rear would be eliminated, and replaced with a pool.
The second is to incorporate 124 Upper Main St., the Tomassian & Tomassian Law building, altering the property from a seven-bedroom residence to a 15 room inn. The office space of Tomassian & Tomassian would be removed, and a 2,235-square-foot addition would be added. The property would have four rooms with private bathrooms, to house up to eight employees. In addition to the renovations, six parking spots would be added along Tilton Way, and 12 parking spots would be added to the rear of the property. Parking removed from 128 Upper Main St. would be moved over to the 124 Upper Main St. building.
If approved, the project would create one year-round, full-time position, and four new seasonal full-time positions.
In letters to the commission, proponents of the project include several abutters and business owners who say the project is beneficial to the town and the Island, and would add value to town.
Those in opposition include several abutters, who took issue with the project’s potential impact on traffic, and who say it is inappropriate in terms of size and aesthetic of the downtown area, particularly with the construction of three dormers on the front of the 124 Upper Main St. building.
Jane Chittick, who lives across the street from 124 Upper Main St., and used to live on the property, said, “From an architectural point of view and historic point of view, this new building does not meet any of the standards that are within our own historic district … With the Hob Knob now expanding, our neighborhood and historic district [are] being decimated.”
Sandra Weinstein, who also lives across the street, wrote in a letter to the commission that the changes would be inappropriate. “I strongly object to the proposal to turn Mr. Tomassian’s home into a 16-room hotel/parking lot,” Weinstein wrote. “In particular, changing the front of the historic home with the addition of dormers — three of them. The other major issue is the volume/movement of all those cars, parking, loading, and unloading, cabs picking up and delivering, vendors delivering.”
Some commissioners also took issue with the traffic, and wanted to see a full study conducted.
Commissioner Linda Sibley felt there needed to be a closer look at how the proposed parking would affect the area. “Changing the location of the parking changes the relationship to the road, and that’s my concern,” Sibley said.
Commissioner Ernest Thomas said his concern was with the foot traffic between the two properties.
MVC transportation planner Mike Mauro said he would conduct a safety evaluation of pedestrians and bicyclists on Tilton Way.
Murphy clarified that once the project goes through MVC, it still needs approval from the Historic District Commission, and an amendment to the 1997 special permit form the zoning board of appeals.
“This traffic issue that everybody’s talking about is there as it is,” Murphy said. “Does moving the parking over there and adding a few spaces change the traffic? I mean, we can’t change the traffic pattern for the town of Edgartown because they want to add some rooms to the hotel. It’s got to be based on this application.”
In other business, chairman Douglas Sederholm and commissioner Jim Vercruysse were appointed to the Steamship Authority long-range-planning task force.