To the Editor:
I’m writing in opposition to article 6 on the West Tisbury town warrant, which would authorize the development of an affordable housing project on town-owned land on the corner of State Road and Lambert’s Cove Road.
This parcel lies in the State Road corridor that connects our down-Island towns to up-Island. For 50 years now, there has been a quiet, and maybe at times underappreciated, effort to conserve the unique character of this roadway. This success has had a significant impact on the rural quality of West Tisbury and our Island. These efforts have involved multiple landowners whose stewardship and foresight, with support of the state, town, Land Bank, and other local conservation organizations, have all contributed to the preservation of these woodlands and farmlands. Some 18 properties have been conserved from the business district in Vineyard Haven to the historical West Tisbury town center. I dare not say what our Island would feel like without these protected roadsides. Route 28 on Cape Cod comes to mind.
To be clear, I am not opposed to affordable housing, but I believe there is a better location for this project that would minimize the impacts of our rural roads while offering an improved site with more buildable land. At the same time, this alternative site would be located in close proximity to our business district, which would be ideal for supporting an elderly housing project.
Adjacent and to the south of the proposed site are several undeveloped lots totaling 30-plus acres. Further south lie over a hundred more acres. In past years, there have been active discussions about a conservation and housing partnership on some of this land. This is not
a new idea. With the likelihood of a new housing bank being passed soon, a meaningful effort to create a more sensible housing project with a conservation component on some of this land could be realized.
While it may be unpopular to say no to housing while the need is so great, I believe this is one of the exceptions. A no vote to article 6 and the development of this Lambert’s Cove parcel, the gateway to one of our scenic gems, would send a message to our Island planning community that we support housing, but would like more planning on the possibilities of creating it on nearby lands. It’s not too late. Our rural roads matter, and it need not be at the expense of affordable housing opportunities. Let good planning prevail.