MVC is ‘backlogged’ with work

In an effort to move through proposals, the commission finally approves Fine Fettle’s request to allow walk-ins.

The Martha's Vineyard Commission is tasked with approving or denying the request to demolish this structure, which was built around 1890.

Preceding delving into agenda items at their Thursday meeting, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission took some time to discuss how to more efficiently use allotted meeting time.

Commission chair Joan Malkin addressed the “backlog” of DRIs (developments of regional impact) submitted to the commission for assessment and deliberation. Commissioner Fred Hancock agreed, and said that due to “overstuffed agenda[s],” the commission “end[s] up late in the night trying to do stuff we really shouldn’t be doing.”

Commissioner Trip Barnes pointed to a recent meeting in which the commission was tasked with assessing the proposed Vineyard Wind 1 building in Tisbury. “We spent a half an hour of that time talking about the plantings of what is going to be there,” he said. “That’s the kind of stuff we can come back to.” Barnes said the focus should be on more imminent proposals. 

Malkin subsequently called for additional monthly meetings in order to keep up with the work, which commissioners informally supported. 

The commission approved requests by Fine Fettle to allow walk-ins at its West Tisbury location in addition to allowing a slight increase in operating hours. The marijuana dispensary’s modification requests have been a key discussion point at recent MVC meetings, with the commission raising concerns about its possible impact to traffic.

A subsequent public hearing — and data provided to the commission by the dispensary, showing significantly less foot and car traffic than initially projected — prompted commissioners on Thursday to move forward with the approval.

Owners of 1133 Main St. in Vineyard Haven have requested approval to demolish the existing building, citing structural issues. The four-story, 8,500-square-foot house abuts the West Chop Historic District, and is believed to have been built around 1890.

As the MVC is being inundated with various requests, the increase in proposed demolitions submitted had recently triggered Hancock to present a re-evaluated and updated demolition policy

The policy states “historic buildings on Martha’s Vineyard should be preserved to the greatest extent possible,” and highlights alternatives to building demolition — preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, relocation, and reconstruction. 

Further, the policy states conditions that will have to be met in order for demolition approval, such as considerations of the alternatives, in-depth research outlining the history of the property, and whether the property is listed in MACRIS (Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System). Additionally, the policy speaks to whether the structure is found to be of historical significance, and to what extent, along with a rating system to determine regional impact; the higher the number, the more vigorous the safeguarding efforts ought to be.

A preliminary rating by the MVC DRI staff found the 1133 Main St. building to be 10 out of 19 — 19 being the maximum.

Commissioners took issue with the rating, calling for some of the category ratings to be higher in order to take into account the historical nature of the dwelling, highlighting its prominence in West Chop. 

“It’s an integral part of the West Chop Club development,” said commissioner Christina Brown, “which in itself is historic in the community. I’d certainly give it [a higher number].”

Barnes said he’d like to be able to see a rendering of the replacement structure in order to form an opinion. 

Malkin said legal advice given to the commission suggests first considering whether a demo- requested building is of “sufficient significance” before looking at replacement plans.

Brown suggested moving the demolition request to a public hearing, to which the commission agreed in unanimous vote.

Proposed modifications for the Stone Bank Condominiums brought to the commission by building owner Sam Dunn included an abatement of the second floor of Building C, which decreases the number of residential units by 1, the addition of a balcony to Building B, and the elimination of rooftop solar panels on all but one unit.

The Stone Bank Condo project, which was approved by the MVC last year, includes a renovation of two existing structures and the construction of an additional five structures in its redevelopment into a mixed-use condominium and commercial business development.

On the elimination of the solar panels, Dunn explained that the decision for the modification was fueled by opinions from the Tisbury Historical Commission, who, according to Dunn, agreed with the proposal. Dunn said the solar panels “would be very much in your face,” in addition to existing rooftop construction plans being incompatible with the panels. 

Commissioner Ben Robinson expressed concern over the issue, citing that the initial approval of conditions on the project were subject to the submitted construction plans, which differs from what was presented on Thursday. 

Two out of the three modifications were ultimately approved by the commission with the request to remove the solar panels slated to be discussed further at a public hearing.


  1. Wow– imagine that. After only years of paranoid hang wring by various commissions and endless debate at taxpayer expense, people are actually going to be able to legally walk into a store and buy something they want.
    And presumably fly out !!!!

    Praise the Spaghetti Monster

  2. If the commission wants to speed up their meetings they need to start living in the real world instead of their fantasy utopia. They should be allowing businesses to succeed and thrive instead of trying to find Reasons to make it more difficult. The whole discussion with the marijuana dispensary was a two minute piece of work that they dragged out.

  3. The one big issue everyone seems to be ignoring is the traffic. Suggestion:limit the number of cars on the island and make better use of buses and taxi services. The more homes, condos and apartments you build the more congested it gets. The quality of life on the island has changed dramatically and not for the better.

  4. Out with the old, in with the new..!
    Taxes up
    Push the old aside, find homes for the working force.
    Broke and thinking about a trailer home living.

  5. Of course the MVC’s agenda is over loaded. Could it be too much capital chasing too few places on our beautiful Island to build yet another mansion?

    The problem is not unique to MV.
    Most luxury resorts are the same pressure because the staggering income inequality in our country keeps making heaps money for the one percent. What to do with all that money?

    For example two developers from Utah want to build some posh houses on the southern woodlands. What’s wrong with building in Utah? The state has magnificent mountains that offer great skiing. Then there are beautiful desert areas to develop.

    So why come so far away from their home state to build in an environmentally fragile area on our Island? Could it be simple greed?

  6. I would hope the Martha’s Vineyard Commission gets an overhaul. They continue to over reach their original charter and strangle businesses trying their best to upgrade their businesses. The gross negligence and over reaching from the MVC has to stop. Hopefully the taxpayers continue to reach out their representatives for an investigation into their scope of “work”.

    Time for a change, out with the old and in with the new.

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