Tisbury commission key to marine project’s permits


Tisbury’s conservation commission continued its hearing on a proposed offshore wind farm operations and maintenance (O and M) facility at the Tisbury Marine Terminal on Beach Road. The project features three berths for offshore maintenance vessels, a piling-supported pier, and a breakwater or “wave wall” to protect vessels at berth. Vineyard Wind is waiting in the wings to be the first lessee of the facility. The project divides the marine terminal in half, with one side for Packer family barge operations, and the other side for the O and M facility. 

Project engineer Susan Nilson of Foth Infrastructure and Environment told the commissioners the Massachusetts Policy Act Office and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission have already signed off on the project. However, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (CZM), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are still reviewing the project. In essence, she told the commissioners, an order of conditions for the project from them was tantamount to a permitting linchpin. 

“So the DEP won’t issue without an order of conditions, CZM won’t issue without DEP, and the Army Corps won’t issue without CZM.”

The commissioners spent the hearing asking Nilson and fellow engineer Carlos Pena questions, listening to questions from stakeholders, and discussing but not at all solidifying conditions for the project. 

Phil Hale, whose family business, Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard, abuts the project site, asked about the construction of the breakwater, and Tisbury harbormaster John Crocker asked about gaps or holes in the breakwater. 

Pena said the wave wall would be made with “heavy structural steel” supported with “plumb piles,” pilings driven straight, and “batter piles,” piles driven at an angle. Each type would be about 100 feet long. Pena said the wave wall would have a sheeting along its eastern face. 

Nilson said small apertures in the breakwater, which she described as a “wave wall,” would allow water to flow and marine life to transit.

Hale also asked what steps were taken to review impacts to navigation the project might pose. Pena said the project team has worked closely with the Steamship Authority’s port captain to evaluate such issues. Crocker said so long as the Steamship Authority finds navigation adequate for ferries, he doesn’t see navigation issues with the project. 

No decisions were made at the hearing. Commission chair Tom Robinson continued the hearing to Jan. 18 at 4:30 pm.