MVC approves Dukes County Ave. building reconstruction

Historic building that was demolished will be replaced with a two-story home.

Development of Regional Impact coordinator Alex Elvin goes over revised plans for the reconstruction of a historic home on Dukes County Avenue during a Zoom meeting.

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission approved the replacement of a historic structure on Dukes County Avenue with a new two-story home.

In January, Oak Bluffs building inspector Tom Perry issued a demolition permit after the Oak Bluffs historical district commission determined the original building was not historically significant at a Dec. 16 meeting. The property was demolished shortly after Jan. 21 with sign offs from both the historical district commission and the Oak Bluffs building department.

During final deliberations Thursday night, commissioners went through the benefits and detriments of allowing applicants Ryan and Abigail Dillon to construct a two-story home in place of the original building at 112 Dukes County Ave. that was built around 1880 and borders a historic district. Initially, the building was determined to be in a historic district and didn’t need to be referred to the MVC. But after further investigation, it was determined that the building was just outside of the historic district and was subject to MVC review but the building had already been razed. 

Additionally, commission members compared a previous iteration of the proposed building project with a revised edition that included several changes of varying significance. 

At the outset of the meeting, commissioners Doug Sederholm, Josh Goldstein, Brian Packish, and Jim Vercruysse were recused from the discussion and decision. 

According to Development of Regional Impact (DRI) coordinator Alex Elvin, there has been significant review since the record was reopened and new plans were provided for the revised project.

The record closed on Thursday, Nov. 4, and the land use planning committee met to discuss draft conditions, along with benefits and detriments on Monday, Nov. 15. 

Plans were revised to reduce the number of bedrooms from three to two following the Oak Bluffs wastewater commission review. The commission has since indicated consensus that two bedrooms in the commercial space could be approved.

The amount of commercial space in the proposed building is smaller than in the previously existing building, and the rear of the proposed building is slightly altered. In the new plans, the proposed third floor was removed, and the applicants noted that the proposed basement and attic would be used for storage.

Revisions to the plan also include replacing a previously proposed parking spot with a dry well.

Seven offers were submitted by the applicant overall that were accepted by the MVC stipulating that the front portion of the building be used for commercial space only, that construction will use environmentally sound practices to maximize efficiency and meet Stretch code, and that all appliances will be electric and Energy Star certified.

The applicant also offered to include requirements of electric heat pumps, onsite rooftop solar, outdoor lighting that is dark-sky and Stretch code compliant, and to install a conduit to allow for future charging of electric vehicles. 

All conditions were accepted previously by the LUPC, and were accepted by the MVC without alteration.

Commissioner Linda Sibley noted that the property is on the market, and if somebody wanted to buy it, it would be up to the Oak Bluffs building official to make sure the agreed upon construction plans are maintained. 

“If somebody buys this property and tries to build something else, he will have to tell them ‘well you can’t do that,’” Sibley said.

Commissioner Christina Brown suggested including in the list of conditions a reminder of the two-year period that a project must make legitimate progress within, otherwise another review must take place.

But commissioner Fred Hancock said that, because the building has already been demolished, there is technically already a “substantial start” to the DRI, so the project would not lapse after two years.

“That’s what they initially came to ask permission for. The two-year lapse is only if a substantial start has not been made to the project,” Hancock said.

After all commissioners who were eligible to vote approved the DRI and closed deliberation, the group went through a concurrence review of the benefits and detriments, highlighting the major factors that would determine the value of the project. 

The only primary factors indicated previously by the LUPC were energy, and character and identity.

Under the broader category of environment, Sibley said, she considers the energy segment to be a benefit because the new construction will be a more energy efficient house, and everything else related to the environment is more or less neutral.

Hancock said that, under the character and identity category, the fact that the new construction is being done in a classical style that matches the original historic architecture is a slight benefit, compared to the old building that was in poor shape and wouldn’t have lasted as long. 

The DRI was approved by the commission, and must now go through appropriate town boards and the building official before construction can commence.



  1. Please edit the article to clarify that a determination was made in December by the Oak Bluffs Historic(al) Commission, not by the (Cottage City) Historic District Commission. Two distinct bodies.

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