In its first meeting of 2021, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission approved several changes to designs for the west entrance of the Edgartown Stop & Shop, and reopened a public hearing for the Hob Knob Inn Thursday night.
In 2017, the commission approved the Edgartown Stop & Shop’s expansion plan, with an open condition that the project’s west entrance be redesigned to prevent westbound parking traffic from entering the main entry/exit point. The condition to redesign the entrance required Stop & Shop to “protect and incorporate ” three existing locust trees on the property, located near the Rockland Trust building.
But on Thursday, after hearing traffic plans from Randy Hart, a transportation director for VHB, a civil engineering firm, commissioners approved a modification to the project, allowing for the trees to be removed and replaced with new ones. By removing the existing trees and replanting new ones, the project would not require a retaining wall, and would have a more level grade.
“The applicant has come to us and said, ‘Yes, we can do this, but we prefer not to save all three of those trees,’” commissioner Douglas Sederholm said. “They’re asking, in a way, what they really want, is for a modification … it’s becoming pretty clear there’s good reason to remove those trees, as much as I hate to lose existing trees.”
Newly minted commissioner Jeff Agnoli concurred. “This is a very, very busy commercial area, and as much as we value trees, it seems like there’s some good arguments that they can be replaced eventually,” Agnoli said.
Taking multiple votes, commissioners approved the west entrance redesign, the request to remove the three locust trees and replant new trees, and that neither of the redesigns require a public hearing.
Commissioners Ben Robinson and Ernie Thomas voted against removing the existing trees.
Commissioners also approved a modification to a pedestrian crosswalk, and that the change in the plans did not require a public hearing.
Stop & Shop must return to the commission with a landscaping plan, which will include the new tree species.
In other business, commissioners reopened the public hearing on the Hob Knob Inn expansion, after new designs were submitted following outcry from abutters about the project.
The project went through several iterations, and multiple public hearings. Commissioners closed the public hearing in November.
The project aims to double the size of the boutique inn by adding two new guest rooms and enlarging the existing spa and fitness room with four new treatment rooms, which all add 1,450 square feet.
The project also seeks to incorporate 124 Upper Main St., the Tomassian & Tomassian Law building. The Tomassian building’s office space would be removed, and a 4,401-square-foot addition would be added in its place. An existing carriage house would also be renovated, altogether creating 10 new guest rooms and four new employee rooms for the inn.
The new designs submitted Thursday would eliminate a planned pool at the Tomassian property, and instead create 17 parking spaces — a 13-space increase from the existing parking.
The new hearing will be at the commission’s Jan. 21 meeting at 7 pm. The meeting will be held on Zoom. Commissioners also agreed that the new public hearing would be limited to discussion of the removal of the pool, the new parking spaces, and the redesigned employee rooms. “As hearing officer, I would want to focus on things that are different. We have very thoroughly addressed things that have not changed,” Sederholm said.
The commission also welcomed four new members Thursday night — elected members Jeff Agnoli of Edgartown and Jay Grossman of Chilmark, and appointed members Ted Rosbeck of Edgartown and Brian Packish of Oak Bluffs.