West Tisbury pursuing land purchase for affordable housing

A possibility of nine bedrooms exists with the lots being considered. 

West Tisbury is considering buying lots fully within the red circled area. The Devine family offered to sell the gold outlined lot to the town, the purple lots are town-owned, and the blue lots are privately owned.

Updated September 8

West Tisbury officials are considering buying a number of lots to build affordable housing. 

West Tisbury town administrator Jennifer Rand told the West Tisbury Select Board during a Wednesday, Sept. 6, meeting that West Tisbury landowners — the Devine family — offered to sell a lot on Stony Hill Path. 

The property could ultimately lead to the creation of nine bedrooms.

The Stony Hill Path lot is surrounded by town-owned property as well as land owned by the Stony Hill Association (town land is shaded in purple on a map provided by Rand; Stony Hill land is shaded in blue). While the Stony Hill Association told Rand they were not interested in a land swap, they would consider selling lots to the town. 

“They had some concerns about past restrictions on the number of houses in this development set by the [Martha’s Vineyard Commission],” Rand said.

Rand added she was told by the commission’s DRI coordinator there were initially concerns about the number of houses within the subdivision. However, an amendment could be considered to add housing to the lot. “When this subdivision happened, affordable housing wasn’t the crisis it is now,” Rand said. 

Rand said some of the land in the area is nonbuildable, and could act as a buffer from Great Plains Road. The offered lot is also not expected to be heavily impacted by traffic. 

The offered lot from the Devine family is 0.26 acres, with the collective lots adding up to 1.66 acres, and could potentially accommodate nine bedrooms if an enhanced septic system was utilized. The other lots being considered have an assessed value of less than $100,000. “It’s not insurmountable, in my mind, to purchase these lots if the land owners are willing to sell them,” Rand said, adding that the town could potentially build more than just one house. “I don’t think it’s good time and money spent for the town to only get one house out of this.”

Rand later clarified that the idea would be to have multiple bedrooms in a duplex or apartment, not a nine-bedroom house. 

The board welcomed the possibility of building more affordable housing in West Tisbury. 

“I’m excited by this idea a lot,” board vice chair Jessica Miller said. “If we can maximize the bedroom count in a way that is palatable to the Stony Hill [Association] and the commission, that’s what we should [pursue].”

The board agreed the West Tisbury affordable housing committee should be brought in after acquisition of the lots has been completed.

Updated with clarifications from Jennifer Rand.


  1. I was present at the Selectboard meeting when this was discussed. Should the purchase of the lots go through, the assembled parcel would be about 1.6 acres, and would support nine BEDROOMS, not nine units of housing.

  2. Isn’t Town owned housing just like the “projects” that failed everywhere in every city they are built? Do taxpayers want to be landlords?

    • Yes, the taxpayers of all six towns frequently vote in favor of funding for affordable housing and have so for years. Existing “projects” are very nice and successful.

    • Not all “projects” failed everywhere in every city they are built!
      The high density vertical ghettos failed, trying to it on the cheap.
      Of the public housing built in the last twenty years, the vast majority is very successful.
      Think senior housing.
      Most all taxpayers are now landlords.
      Is that bad?

  3. Town owned housing projects, for the most part, do not fail, unless you consider having poor people in your midst a failure

    Can you name one town owned housing project that is a failure?

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