Tisbury town planners and the select board have written letters opposing a proposed mixed-use development at 386 State Road in Vineyard Haven.
According to a planning board letter opposing the Chapter 40B application, developer Brook Katzen is proposing a mixed-use development on less than an acre of land that would include 62 units of rental housing. The location is where The Cove Golf & Grill is currently located. Katzen is also the owner of Little House Cafe and co-owner of a food truck located on the mini golf property.
“Brook is a great guy and he’s doing some very good things,” Elaine Miller, chair of the Tisbury planning board, told The Times. “But this is like putting the Empire State Building on Martha’s Vineyard.”
In a conversation with The Times, Katzen said: “I also think highly of Elaine. I’m glad that she’s chairing the planning board, but referring to it as the Empire State Building is a bit of an overstatement. I’ve proposed a four-story building. It is larger than others in the neighborhood, but neighborhoods evolve over time.”
Katzen made it clear he is willing to work collaboratively with the town and reiterated several times that this is the start of the conversation. He said his application is a first step and he hopes the town will be willing to work with him and understand that revenue from the development, which includes 10,000 square feet of commercial space, will benefit the town and help with some of the infrastructure issues that have been brought up in the letters opposing his proposal.
“I’ve proposed an ambitious development for the site to have an impact on the housing affordability crisis. Big problems require big solutions,” Katzen said. “I’m not surprised that some people are thinking it’s too ambitious.”
In its letter to Mass Housing objecting to the proposal, the planning board states that the project would be four stories and 30 feet taller than the town’s 35-foot height limit. “The scale is out of context with the neighborhood, which is primarily two-story residential-style homes most of which have been renovated to accommodate storefronts or offices,” the letter states. “A few remain in residential use, along with [one-to-two] story business and light industrial use structures.”
Other issues cited by the planning board are a lack of parking and inadequate green space. Wastewater is another problem with the proposed project because the town’s system can’t handle the added flow. “The ability to have an on-site wastewater facility for the development does not appear feasible,” the letter states.
Both the planning board and select board letters point out the need for year-round workforce housing and their general support for such projects, but point out that the size and scale of the project is out of context for the area.
The select board voted unanimously to authorize town administrator Jay Grande to send a letter of opposition on behalf of the board.
The issues with parking, the size of the development, lack of open space, and stormwater runoff are among the issues pointed out. Impact on traffic and the environment are also cited in the letter.
“The proposed concentration and the intensity of development are contrary to the growth management plans and strategies of the town of Tisbury and Island of Martha’s Vineyard,” the select board’s letter concludes.
Katzen said the area is perfect for workforce housing because it’s a 15-minute walk to Five Corners and is located in an area — across from Cronig’s — where residents can walk to stores and other businesses.
“If we’re going to make a meaningful impact on the Island’s housing crisis, we can’t do it piecemeal — six units here, seven units there,” Katzen said. “This site, given its location, provides a unique opportunity for those who need it the most.”