Developers of the proposed Meeting House Place are appealing the recent ruling of a superior court judge that upheld the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s denial of the Edgartown housing development.
Utah-based developers Douglas K. Anderson and Richard G. Matthews, operating as Meeting House Way LLC, filed a notice of appeal through their attorneys in Dukes County Superior Court Monday.
This comes a few weeks after Judge Paul Wilson called for a dismissal of the developers’ complaint, which argued for the right to build roughly 30 homes on a 20-acre subdivision in Edgartown.
In their initial lawsuit, Meeting House Way LLC attorneys claimed that the Martha’s Vineyard Commission “exceeded its statutory authority,” and that the project’s rejection “was based on subjective opinions devised for the occasion, not uniformly applicable regulations.”
“The decision was unmoored from the facts, scientific evidence, and in several instances from the reports of its own staff,” developers argued.
The commission based its 2020 decision to deny the project largely on the development’s potential impact to Edgartown, citing that as presented, Meeting House Place would not align with the town’s character.
The commission and its legal representatives have also stated that the plans submitted to the regional agency lacked specificity about how the development would involve affordable housing.
In the court’s decision to support the MVC’s denial last month, Judge Wilson said he was “sympathetic” to the developers’ appeal, but noted “legal deficiencies” in the proposed project, and called it “unworkable for several reasons, both factual and legal.”
Meeting House Way LLC has since established a new legal team to take over the appeal process.
Attorney Daniel Dain, one of the newly hired legal representatives for Meeting House Way LLC, shared a statement with The Times Wednesday: “Over several years of hearings, Meeting House Way LLC developed an attractive, environmentally sensitive project to help meet the Vineyard’s acute housing needs. It changed the project many times to address Martha’s Vineyard Commission concerns. The final proposal included a substantial affordable housing component, and the commission decided that the affordable housing component favored approval.
“It nevertheless denied the project, later citing technical aspects of the affordable housing program that are resolvable. Meeting House Way respects the role that regional planning plays for the Vineyard, and prefers an amicable resolution that addresses the commission’s concerns while bringing a mix of additional housing to the community, and it will continue to work toward that goal. But if the commission cannot provide clear guidelines as to what warrants approval under the vague statutory language, then the hope is that the court through the appeal process will provide those guidelines.”
This is great news for the Island. Happy to see these people spend there money and time to teach the MVC a lesson. The MVC has to much power and had no real reason to deny this other than they do not like large homes. They also must not like over a $1,000,000 dollars to affordable housing, inexpensive town houses, huge tracks of land never touched along with acres of conservation land, connecting the project and neighbors to town sewer. They also must of been blind to the fact there are sub division beside this on both sides with hundreds of homes. Also the judge did say the MVC was incorrect in some of the reasons. Bring on round 2 as this is what the island wants to spend tax payer money fighting something the Town of Edgartown was ready to approve.
Bob, this development is around the corner from me. I imagine you don’t know the layout of this neighborhood, nor take into consideration the critical state of the island at the moment. Let’s be real: when a developer promises affordable housing, they always work a way around the regulations to offer as little as possible and, sadly, they are not held to their promises when things are finished (see the OB situation of the guy who built workforce housing to then rent the units out as Airbnb and then claim he could do whatever he wanted). What this island needs is fewer investment homes built to be rent out for tens of thousands of dollars a week and housing for the people who live and work here. You know, the people who teach your kids, police your streets, keep you safe, provide your house cleaning and lawn care, work at the boat that connects us to the rest of America, ring up and bag your groceries and check you out at any of the stores on-island where you shop, among many other jobs. People see the Vineyard as a cash cow, and Edgartown, if it was protecting its citizens as well as collecting tax revenue, would place an immediate moratorium on any building now. If not that, then houses over 2,000 square feet. Or something like that. It’s really sad to see my neighborhood change so incredibly rapidly over the last three years. Covid?! Let’s build out every possible piece of land for big homes for wealthy investors instead of safeguarding the livelihoods of the people who live and work here. The “sticking it to the MVC” attitude of so many is counterproductive to Island living as a whole. Their judgments are not always sound, but here where I live, around the corner from this proposed project, they got it right. If the developers want to make money and stop litigating, they should redo their plans to include at least half of their development as workforce housing. I’m sure building affordable housing will get them a tax break and they can save their greedy aspirations for the multi-million dollar homes they’ll build on the rest of the land.
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