Tisbury approves Housing Bank amendments

Coalition to Create a Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank co-chair Julie Fay at Tisbury town meeting. — Rich Saltzberg

On Wednesday, Tisbury’s select board became the sixth and last to approve amendments to Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank legislation. The vote was 2-0. Tisbury has a two-member board until Larry Gomez’s seat is filled. 

Coalition to Create an M.V. Housing Bank co-chair Julie Fay, former head of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, issued a statement Thursday about the six affirmative select board votes and what’s next. 

“Thank you to the select boards and the Housing Bank Review Committee for preparing the Housing Bank Act for filing with the state legislature,” Fay wrote. “Now the Island’s request for a Housing Bank moves on to Beacon Hill at last. We are so fortunate to have Sen. [Julian] Cyr and Rep. [Dylan] Fernandes as our legislative delegation; they will be very strong advocates. Supporting this at state level will take the voices of our entire community. This is an ongoing process, and we will keep the community informed so M.V. residents can be poised to share their support directly to the legislature.” 

The select board voted on previously approved legislation with three changes made by the Island’s Housing Bank Review Committee. 

The first changes the towns’ advisory boards memberships from two housing committee members to one, with the other spot being filled by a board of assessors member. The second change was clerical — a clarification to the language. The third change specified that “grants or gifts of money or other assets” will need to follow any rules and guidelines in the Housing Bank legislation, and be subject to any restrictions placed by the donor or grant giver.

Ahead of the vote, Rachel Orr, who represented Tisbury on the review committee, told the board the committee met with Cyr and Fernandes in October to get feedback on the bill.

Cyr and Fernandes “suggested fairly drastic changes to the bill.”

Orr said they suggested removal of “all the language related to the transfer fee.” Orr said the legislators believed “statewide legislation” would cover the transfer fee, as opposed to legislation covering specific communities like the Vineyard. 

“They also suggested removing all the specific regulatory language,” Orr said, and letting that to be “decided at a more local level.”

Orr said the select board must decide whether it will vote on what was “filed with the town clerks,” which has minor changes, or to give consideration to the substantial changes suggested later on in the process, or to do something else. 

“I’ll just let you know that the other five towns have voted to approve the amendments and to send up what was filed with town clerks,” Orr said.

“I just want to say the HVRC [Housing Bank Review Committee] did a great job,” John Abrams, a member of the Coalition to Create an M.V. Housing Bank, told the board. Abrams, whose company, South Mountain, has designed and built affordable housing on the Vineyard, went on to say, “The only things that matter here, in our view, [are] unity and speed.”

Cyr could not immediately be reached for comment on the legislation.


  1. Let me point out the long view about this island
    It has about 56,000 acres.
    Various organizations like the Land Bank, Sheriff’s Meadow foundation and the trustees of reservations have manage to protect an impressive portfolio of environmentally sensitive properties, and allow public access to it in a controlled manner.

    Add to that the state forest, state protected wetlands and open space and we have about about 35 % of the Vineyard being conserved.
    31 % is developed . About 29 % is open to development.
    So the bottom line is that there are about 16,000 acres left to either be developed or conserved.
    I personally would like to see some of that land be used for affordable housing.
    It’s either that or conservation or trophy houses. That 16,000 acres won’t be up grabs forever.

  2. Someone should say clearly what is affordable housing, how is it managed and where is the best area for it concerning transportation and proximity to stores and shops before building anything. I for one can not afford the growing cost of living here on MV as I am sure other retirees are finding as well.
    Describe what is affordable and for whom. Do we need a reality check as to who is living on the island or who just want to live here.
    Also why hadn’t anyone talk about 20 unit apartment type housing? Instead of the duplexes or single home conversions.

  3. Affordable housing should be in the range of 850,000 to $900,000 no higher than 3 million four bedroom two and a half bath under an umbrella of the association for personal property management

  4. Tisbury resident here. Many thanks to the HBRC (Housing Bank Review Committee), Tisbury and other town select boards for moving this along. If you’re a person reading this who is interested in supporting affordable housing on MV, this legislation will still need your support at the state level in the form of email/letter/call support to state reps when the time is right. Follow CCMVHB social media or website for updates. Happy Holidays + New Year to all; let’s keep making decisions together as an island because that was pretty darn great.

Comments are closed.