Sewer advisory panel holds off decisions

Tisbury board delays action on requests for additional flow.


A plan to bring a Mexican restaurant to Main Street in Vineyard Haven is on hold after the town’s sewer advisory board delayed action on a request for additional flow during a Zoom meeting on Wednesday. A majority of the board suggested the change in use requires Martha’s Vineyard Commission review.

Patrick Lyons, a restaurateur, is planning to develop a Mexican restaurant as part of the Old Stone Bank mixed-used development, but needs additional sewer flow to make it happen. The other flow application put on hold was for a property at 4 State Road, the former EduComp building, where a mix of office, retail, and residential space is proposed.

While board members said the projects should be put on hold for further review, Jeff Kristal, who represents the select board on the advisory board, chastised his fellow board members for their conduct. “This committee has overstepped its boundaries today. We are not a site-plan review board. We have our consultant on the line, and he has given us what he has available. This board is an advisory board to the select board,” said Kristal.

Kristal then suggested that Sam Dunn, who is developing the Stone Bank property, and Xerxes Agassi, who is proposing the 4 State Road mixed-use development, both go directly to the select board with their flow requests, which he said will most likely be granted on conditional terms. The select board also serves as the sewer commission.

Dunn, developer of the Old Stone Bank area, which most recently housed Santander Bank, was at the meeting on behalf of Lyons. He was also critical of the advisory board’s position. Dunn said things have been done differently in the past, while board members said there were procedures that needed to be followed. 

Dunn expressed frustration, since he feels some of the board members did not properly look at his application. “I’ve been to a lot of these sewer board meetings, and this seems to happen every time. There’s confusion and ‘let’s kick the can down the road’ and so on,” Dunn said.

According to Bob Rafferty, principal of Environmental Partners, the town’s wastewater consultant, the restaurant is planned as an outdoor eatery, with around 70 seats. There will mainly be a kitchen and a bathroom inside the property. Currently, a daily 2,310 gallons of flow is permitted for the property. Dunn is requesting an extra 1,400 gallons of flow for the property to convert it from a retail building to a restaurant. According to Dunn, the total daily gallons of flow will be for the restaurant and surrounding buildings: 15 bedrooms, five commercial spaces including the restaurant, and three offices. 

“This will be a really terrific thing for the Island and Vineyard Haven particularly. It’s right near the ferry, it’s right where it’s been derelict for years, and it’s at the confluence of several public pathways,” said Dunn about the restaurant. 

According to the board’s calculations, there is flow left over to allocate to Dunn. However, the board said Dunn only needs 1,176 gallons of flow instead of 1,400 gallons. 

Wastewater superintendent Jared Meader expressed concern that if Dunn is allocated the flow it would be attached to the property, and the additional flow would not be available for other properties. This would place Tisbury in a difficult position if the restaurant’s owner decides to close up the business or if it fails. Meader also pointed out that Lyons should come to the meetings, as he will be the owner of the property. 

Additionally, board member Connie Alexander said since the original application did not say this would be for a restaurant, the issue needs to be addressed by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. “I think there’s a lot of open questions, a lot of open-endedness, and I would like to put this aside temporarily so we can get all of our questions answered appropriately,” Alexander said. 

Alexander said the allocation cannot be given to Dunn, as he is not the owner and because of the change to the plans. She made a motion to refer the issue to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. Christina Colarusso, sewer advisory board chair, and Kristal abstained from voting, but the rest of the board voted in favor of this motion. 

Meanwhile, as the purchaser and developer of the property at 4 State Road, Agassi wants to make it a mixed-use location. He plans seven units to be used for office and retail space, while 15 units would be residential, with five reserved for workforce housing. In particular, staff from Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, such as nurses and doctors, are the focus of these workforce units. Agassi also plans to keep the current style of the building, and make only the necessary renovations to accommodate the changes in use. 

The board made a motion to table this application for a later date. Kristal abstained while the rest of the board unanimously approved the decision. 

Colarusso said the board could hold additional meetings to discuss these two applications if needed.