Housing initiatives raise questions


To the Editor: 

Those opposed to transfer land for development at the stacked June West Tisbury town meeting and concerns that Martha’s Vineyard may soon become not unlike Route 28 of Cape Cod. But you don’t have to look as far as Route 28. Poor planning in the business district on State and Beach roads, Vineyard Haven, and destruction of landscape that will never be the same for a massive 22-apartment complex are proof enough.

And the promoters could care less about opposition, because they get “free legal advice” (“Neighbors Appeal Kuehn’s Way Housing Project,” Vineyard Gazette, Dec. 1, 2016, quoting Philippe Jordi, executive director, Island Housing Trust), so those who are opposed are of little or no consequence. How was it even possible, or prudent, to allow for a project of this size, scope, and density, based on outdated water policy and other regulations, to allow 44 bedrooms, two persons per room, parking for 35-plus cars, on a less-than-five-acre plot on State Road? The long-term effects are left to taxpayers and abutters to deal with. The destruction of landscape for this and other developments in W.T. has a devastating effect on the environment and roadside, not to mention the ever-increasing traffic up and down State Road, extending to the W.T. business district and beyond. The traffic impact cited for this project in 2016 was outdated, and did not reflect current or future concerns. The planners for profit of W.T. already allowed every home to have an occupancy apartment that potentially doubles the size of the population “and provide affordable housing.” This is more than enough.

The push continues under the guise of providing housing for those who would be hurt or “suffer” without it (“Neighbors Appeal Kuehn’s Way Housing Project,” Vineyard Gazette), and cannot obtain it by their own efforts and means, guilting others into supporting this cause at any cost. Besides IHT’s aggressive campaigns to solicit funds from private donations, funds also come from taxpayers at the local and state level, and from the Community Preservation Act (CPA — although it is questionable what it is preserving); when there is a large population of homeowners, including seniors and low- and moderate-income taxpayers, who worked hard and sacrificed in order to build or purchase a home, who are finding it harder to pay their own increasing property taxes and maintain their own homes.

The goal seems to be to build as many dwellings, no matter where, and downplay the current and long-term effects. An example is the Water Street six-apartment monstrosity created by IHT, in an area long known to be flooded and underwater during storms, and heavily trafficked with vehicles boarding and off-boarding ferry boats; now a permanent fixture of the town. In keeping with the IHT’s agenda, an expansion and much-needed upgrade of the V.H. Stop & Shop market, a basic necessity for many Islanders, was denied.

This support at any cost for development is led by those who benefit from it — all willing to promote, develop, and build on Martha’s Vineyard under false pretenses. The highest cost is paid by taxpayer and seniors — not to mention residents of Woods Hole and Falmouth, and the SSA who will all see negative repercussions — but again will be ignored. There can be no affordable housing if huge portions of these communities supposedly being “preserved” by the CPA cannot pay their own taxes. Affordable housing without consideration for the landscape, environment, and community is not sustainable. Enough has already been done, but not for the developers and business community. For them, enough is never enough. They want to guilt others by pushing for more.

I question their motives and vision and respect for people in the community. Development of the Island shouldn’t be left in the hands of those who benefit from it. There has been enough of this at the national level, culminating with the past developer in chief, for whom money and self-interest trump all. Most know what he thinks of the environment and of those who protect it.


James Sepanara
Vineyard Haven