TOWN OF TISBURY
P.O. BOX 602
TOWN HALL ANNEX
VINEYARD HAVEN, MASSACHUSETTS 02568
Fax (508) 696-7341
DATE: August 28, 2013
TIME: 5:30 PM
PLACE: Katherine Cornell Theater & Tisbury Town Hall Meeting Room
ATTENDANCE: Aldrin, Peak, Seidman, and Thompson
MINUTES: Mr. Aldrin moved the minutes. Mr. Seidman seconded the motion, which motion carried
10 July 2013 m/s/c 4/0/0
24 July 2013 m/s/c 4/0/0
07 August 2013 m/s/c 4/0/0
1. Stop & Shop
Mr. Peak called the Planning Board’s meeting to order at 5:30 PM in the meeting room, where the board members congregated for the Board of Selectmen’s work session. Mr. Peak advised the Board that the Board of Selectmen had to meet in Executive Session on an emergent issue pertaining to personnel matters, and recommended addressing their house business in the interim.
Mr. Peak noted that he had the opportunity to read Mr. London’s notes on the redesign of the parking lot, which included some of the results of the traffic study. The preliminary report appeared to indicate that the traffic in the parking lot would back up with just the one outlet, and that additional problems would be created if Norton Lane was eliminated.
Mr. Peak mentioned that at the Town Cabinet meeting on 08/26/13, he had asked Mr. Grande to clarify if any exchange of property of value had to go before town meeting, and what the legal parameters of a work session were relative to the Board of Selectmen’s ability to make a decision on the aforementioned subject. Mr. Aldrin thought it was a requirement. Mr. Peak indicated that Mr. Grande agreed.
Mr. Peak referred the board members to the MV Commission staff’s comments regarding the parking lot’s design. The four page document had been emailed earlier by Mr. London. He mentioned that the town administrator’s draft agenda for tonight’s meeting was revised to include the Commission’s comments.
He further noted that there were ten legitimate reasons (e.g. detrimental to the negotiations involved) for holding an executive session, which included personnel matters. Mr. Grande agreed that it did not apply to tonight’s discussions.
On receiving word that the Board of Selectmen had closed their executive session, Mr. Peak entertained a motion to adjourn to the Katherine Cornell Theater for the duration of the Board of Selectmen’s meeting and to return to the meeting room in the town hall when the Board of Selectmen close their work session for a final recap. Mr. Seidman so moved. Mr. Aldrin seconded the motion, which motion carried 4/0/0
5:55 PM Board of Selectmen’s Meeting RE: STOP & SHOP’S IMPACT ON THE MUNICIPAL PARKING LOT
Mr. Kristal began the meeting, stating that the work session was scheduled to discuss the design elements of the parking lot. He mentioned the discussions he has had with the Planning Board and the MV Commission on the topic, adding that the latter had prepared a document for the discussions. The document was available to the general public at the meeting.
Mr. Snyder, a member of the Board of Selectmen commented that the traffic impact and parking lot design were of primary concern to him. He did not understand how one could double size of store without expecting a substantial increase in patrons and traffic.
Mr. Coogan clarified that the applicant was in the process of revising their plans, based on past comments. His client, Stop & Shop wanted to come to an agreement, as much as possible, understanding that the parking lot was town property. The current plan worked best for the project, but required the town’s endorsement. He wanted the opportunity to “vet out issues” so that they could agree on plan. Now that they’ve “ done a lot of work with traffic”, they were at a point now to listen to their concerns.
Mr. Kristal inquired if they had a copy of new parking plan. Mr. Coogan replied in the affirmative, stating that it was on file with MV Commission. He mentioned that nothing had changed; they were still proposing to close off Norton Street and to relocate the comfort station in one of the bays at the police station.
Mr. Kristal clarified that Norton Street was not a “street”, and stopped at Cromwell Lane. He further clarified that the issues under consideration for tonight’s discussions were limited to the relocation of the comfort station, the town generator, the proposal for a single curb cut (entrance and exit), and the improved access through Cromwell, before opening the discussions to town officials.
Mr. Peak commented that the Planning Board’s concern essentially remained the same, the enhancement of the civic nature of the parking lot as a hub for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and for people coming to and from the ferry. Closing off Norton Street would not achieve the result. While they were not wedded to the comfort station as it existed today, they believed it still had to be a public accommodation in whatever matter it was addressed. On a separate issue, Mr. Peak inquired if the Board of Selectmen were still thinking about locating the propane tanks for the store in the parking lot. Mr. Geoghan replied that the current plan was to use oil, which would be stored inside the building.
Mr. Kristal understood that the Stop & Shop planned to provide restrooms inside their building, and that the comfort station could be relocated in one in the bays at the police station. Mr. Peak commented that the police department had expressed to the Planning Board that the space was not available unless they were provided with other accommodations for their needs. The public amenity could be relocated in the space, if done nicely, and the police department’s need for storage space could be resolved.
Mr. Kristal believed the police department had ample space without the additional two empty bays for their operations.
The Police Chief disagreed with Mr. Kristal and explained that one of the bays had to be dedicated to process cars for evidence. The second bay was to serve as a garage to store their speed trailer, sign trailer, motorcycle, and found property (e.g. bikes). Mr. Kristal asked the Police Chief about the number of cars they processed a year? The Police Chief replied that it varied per year. Mr. Kristal commented that they could store the bikes in other locations as they’ve done in past 20 years. It was his opinion that the processing of cars and the storage of bikes took “a back seat to the community’s benefit”. The Police Chief inquired if Mr. Kristal knew what the minimal dimensional requirements were for a public restroom. Mr. Kristal replied that the
information was not available. The Police Chief questioned Mr. Kristal’s logic when the information was not available. Mr. Kristal noted that the police department’s layout and its proximity to water presented an extremely workable solution.
Mr. Seidman thought it was important not to have to go into the Stop & Shop store to access the bathrooms. He believed the public amenity should be maintained as a separate entity from the store.
Hillary Conklin, town resident indicated that it was important to have a restroom near Main Street. She believed the town should continue to provide and maintain the public amenity (comfort station) and not shift their responsibility to Stop & Shop, when the budget for the comfort station was only $15,000.00. Mr. Kristal advised the unknown speaker that the hard and soft costs to maintain the comfort station were $48,000.00, with annual increases somewhere between 16%-20%, according to the town treasurer’s records.
Harold Chapdelaine, Chairman of the Tisbury Historic Commission indicated that he and fellow commissioners had been attending the hearings at the MV Commission, in which the subject of closing down Norton Street was raised as part of the applicant’s proposal. The Tisbury Historic Commission hoped the Board of Selectmen would consider the proposal’s impact on the traffic pattern. He noted that there was a large contingent of traffic that used Norton Lane to gain access to the Steamship Authority across Water Street. The proposal to exit the parking lot from Porto’s required one to make a right hand turn, and a lane change to get into the left lane to enter the Steamship Authority.~~~ Mr. Kristal thought that was not as cumbersome as crossing four lanes of traffic across Water Street. Mr. Chapdelaine noted
that he had spent a good many mornings and afternoons experimenting with the two routes, and has found that people were much more gracious to let him go across the four lanes, rather than to give up their space in their lane.
Mr. Chapdelaine brought to the Board of Selectmen’s attention the issue with the applicant’s proposal for one exit. He noted that the proposal for the one means of egress did not provide a mechanism to relieve a choke point or grid lock.
Mr. Chapdelaine also made a comment about the use of the extra bay at the police station. He thought it was a better solution than to having the amenity relocated in the store. He added that the proposal was a reasonable alternative, but nor for the long term. And like the Planning Board, the Tisbury Historical Commission felt that it was extremely important to maintain a greater degree of public space in the parking lot to make it aesthetically appealing(less utilitarian) because of its location and function as “the gateway to the town and island” . He felt they had to present themselves as gracious and welcoming hosts.
Mr. Coogan commented that the plan took into consideration all of Mr. Chapdelaine’s issues, adding that the current parking lot was a great mess with the two lanes of traffic going out to water street, with the trucks butted up against the building, the congestion, etc. The proposed plan created a buffer area with a landscaped area, and a huge sidewalk with benches. It was designed to eliminate the points of conflict, provide more positives in the traffic, and push people away from Water Street. They wanted to slow them down on Norton Street as they headed for the Steamship Authority. It required tradeoffs.
Randy ?? explained that they tried to strike a balance between the needs of the motorist with those of pedestrians, cyclists and the people parked in parking lot. To strike that balance they all had to make compromises. The plan had a strong pedestrian connection from the Steamship Authority to the Stop & Shop and Main Street. He thought the plan was highly pedestrian oriented. He then explained how by forcing customers to drive to the middle of the parking lot, they slowed down the volume, eliminated the conflict points by consolidating the two access points into a single point of access and increased the separation between proposed driveway and Five Corners. He believed compromise was necessary to achieve balance.
Mr. Israel understood that there would be a 5% increase in traffic at Five Corners and an increase in the delay to get through the same intersection. He also noted that while he was not against the plan, he was not “sold” on the proposal. Based on his observations, the left hand turn into the Steamship Authority property was still an issue.
Mr. Chapdelaine believed the additional parking spaces were going to contribute exponentially to the choking at the single exit because it was going to exacerbate the congestion.~
Randy?? did not believe the issue was the additional volume to the single driveway, because the proposed change wasn’t dramatically significantly in terms of volume. The applicant, Stop & Shop was going to address the situation by providing police control on a regular basis.
Mr. Kristal noted that it was important to have the buses make it through the traffic to keep up with its schedule.
Angela Grant, VTA Administrator stated that the single entry was preferred by the MVTA given that there were fewer delays (or conflicts) with fewer curb cuts.~ She also noted that when motorists cut across Water Street, they normally blocked three lanes of traffic and held up traffic to everyone’s inconvenience. She felt “the trade off” was probably worth any detriment or inconvenience to the Steamship Authority’s patrons.
Mr. Grande held a similar view point , and thought it was important to eliminate a potentially dangerous situation , such as when people race down Norton Street to get to Steamship Authority. He thought the whole benefit of this particular design was to segregate pedestrian and bike traffic from vehicular traffic, or at least reduce that conflict by reducing the number of driveways on Water Street. By reducing the number of conflict points, there is an improvement at the level of service (i.e public transportation) , which may not be beneficial to store’s patrons.
Mr. Israel did not understand how the one exit/entrance opposite the Steamship Authority’s exit was not going to create a problem, even if they had a traffic officer stationed at the site to control traffic. He worried that the traffic was going to back up in the parking lot, and suggested moving the egress a bit closer to Five Corners.
Mr. Peak commented that studies had to be tempered in very large portion with “on the ground knowledge” when dealing with a 19th century town layout. Short term studies by traffic engineers did not give them “that practical on the ground knowledge”. It was up to the town to temper what they find with what they knew to be true.
Based on previous comments during the discussions, Mr. Peak wanted to clarify for the record that it was not Stop & Shop’s parking lot. The business district’s clientele used the parking lot, and they used Norton Street to access the parking lot. The issues presented by the proposal impacted everyone; they were not exclusive to Stop & Shop. The sidewalk from Water Street to Main Street along the store side of the street was going to have two points from where people could cross the road from Water Street to the Steamship Authority and across Cromwell Lane. It was going to do absolutely nothing to reduce the traffic conflict between the people getting out of the cars in the parking lot and those going to the store. People were still going to be circulating in parking lot, while the others
negotiated all that traffic. The preliminary results of last weekend’s survey indicated that the traffic would only get worse if Norton Street was closed, because there is nowhere to go. As soon as the traffic officer stopped people from getting into the lot to let the boat disgorge, the parking lot was going to come to a standstill. And while Stop & Shop’s patrons could reach the store, none of the conflicts between the parking lot and the store were going to be changed at all by closing off Norton Street.
Mr. Kristal indicated that it was the parking lot level of function, in its current configuration presently operated, and experienced it with a police officer, who waited approximately ten minutes in the parking lot to get to the police station.
Mr. Peak reiterated that the existing issues would not get resolved with the proposal.
Mr. Kristal asked Stop & Shop’s representative, Randy ??? if the plan recommended a net loss in parking spaces. He understood the applicant was creating forty-three spaces in the ground level garage. He also wanted to know if the traffic study illustrated the parking lot’s circulation pattern.
Mr. Israel inquired about the number of employees. He explained that he wanted to know if the applicant intended to designate a number of parking spaces for their exclusive use. It would prevent them from parking in the town’s parking lot.
Mr. London, the Executive Director of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission informed the Board of Selectmen that he his staff had prepared a four page document commenting on the applicant’s proposal for tonight’s discussions, and offered to comment on the more salient points. He noted that the parking lot was not just amenity for vehicles; it provided an open space for pedestrians and cyclists. It was therefore extremely important to take the time and to find the expertise to make sure that all of the complexities of the project were integrated. He did not understand why Norton Lane was part of the proposal, and recommended leaving the street open until the traffic study was completed, and suggested otherwise.
Mr. London referred to the memo, noting that the preliminary results of traffic study projected a 6% increase in volume at Five Corners, so that they could expect a far greater impact on closing down Norton Lane. The study raised other interesting data, prompting Mr. London to encourage the Board of Selectmen to take the time to review the preliminary report. He further pointed out to the Selectmen, that the Commissioners were working with the towns toward completing an off-road bicycle network, as a result of the fatality that occurred ac couple of years ago on State Road. He explained that the Commission had identified where the Shard Use Paths should be going from downtown to the ferry, which included a path from the Steamship Authority to Cromwell Lane across Beach Road to Veteran’s Park. It
was a project they should consider in their deliberations. He also noted that they had to preserve the pedestrian link on Cromwell Lane leading to the Union Street Mal.
Mr. London thought it interesting that no one had commented about the benefit(s) in having the walkway through the middle of the parking lot. He mentioned that it was placed there because the town had been gracious enough to allow Stop & Shop to park their big truck. He assumed once the new building was constructed, the sidewalk would also move to the applicant’s site. He also expected that there would be a couple of conflict points at the loading dock.
Mr. London advised the Board of Selectmen that the MV Commission had recently adopted a policy to regulate their applicants’ landscape design, and thought the town might consider adopting a similar regulation that would require a certain percentage (i.e. 75%) of coverage with trees for any parking lot of a certain size. The current proposal did not meet the minimal requirement with the few trees the applicant proposed in the periphery of the parking lot.
In his last comment to the Board of Selectmen, Mr. London shared a personal opinion on the suggested relocation of the comfort station. He thought it might be a good idea to have Stop & Shop provide the restrooms in the upper right hand corner of the building off Norton Lane, since they were obligated to provide the amenity by code.
Mr. Coogan believed that they had provided the best plan possible to meet the towns and Stop & Shop’s needs. He did not find the plan to be designed to benefit Stop & Shop exclusively. Stop & Shop, in addition did not have a stake in the town’s decision regarding Norton Street, and simply wanted to work with the town to be able to return to the MV Commission with a plan that worked for everyone. He explained that the discussions were intended to solicit impressions or alternatives. They were also relying the professionals for assistance. They’ve met with the Commission to the end and were interested in hearing any recommendations. In regards to the vegetation, he was of the impression that the applicant had doubled the number of trees, and noted that Cronig’s did not meet
the Commission’s standards.
Mr. Israel agreed with Mr. Coogan regarding Norton Street, indicating that the primary issue pertained to the delivery trucks, and the applicant’s need to get delivery trucks in and out of the parking lot. The second piece to the issue was limited to the applicant’s activities on their property. It was his impression that the applicant may wish to consider working with the Board of Selectmen, the Planning Board and the MV Commission to develop a plan that met both their needs. He thought it might be easier if they compartmentalize the project into two separate issues, so that they could move ahead with the store, while they continued to address the bathrooms, etc.
Dana Hodson, a town resident requested a clarification regarding Norton Street’s status as a road. Mr. Kristal mentioned earlier that Norton Street stopped at Cromwell Lane. He inquired if it stopped by deed or was simply absorbed into the parking lot, when they acquired the road. Mr. Krystal referred to unspecified document, but deferred to Mr. Peak
Mr. Peak replied that it stopped.
Mr. Hodson understood a number of people who owned property on Cromwell Lane had to move their fences and/or property line to accommodate traffic, when it was originally established to serve horse carts.
Mr. Israel advised Mr. Hodson that the town voted to take Cromwell Lane by eminent domain a few years ago.
Mr. Hodson inquired about the generator. Mr. Grande replied that The Board of Selectmen wanted to consolidate the lift station and generator for the police department’s pump station if there was a possibility that the comfort station had to be relocated.
Dawn Velanti, a town resident, who lives and works in an area directly affected by traffic, has seen the traffic backed up to her residence on numerous occasions. The topic has always raised issues with safety in the community, and it concerned her that the town was willing to entertain a proposal that increased the traffic at Five Corners short of a hospital or community based non-profit use. She felt they were missing the point and could not comprehend why the Board of Selectmen would consider a proposal that had no tangible benefit to the community, and increase the most problematic and dangerous situation we’ve been experiencing. If everyone agrees that the proposal will increase the traffic, why is not being treated as a “non-starter”. Mrs. Velanti was surprised to hear the Board
of Selectmen even consider relocating the public restrooms in the police department’s storage bays, when two of their police officers appeared against the suggestion. From her perspective as a taxpayer, she did not understand why the Board of Selectmen were making concessions for problems that did not exist, and willing to compromise their safety by allowing more traffic and congestions . She asked them if they had the authority to say ‘no”. She asked if she had to accept the possibility that there will be a larger store in an area impacted negatively by congestion.
Mr. Israel explained that the discussions were being held to solicit input from their citizens, and to the merits of the proposal along with the detriments.
Mrs. Velanti inquired if the Board of Selectmen had information about any accidents that may have occurred in the town parking lot. Mr. Kristal replied that there were over 198 calls for service to the communication center within a year period involving the parking lot, Water Street, Union Street and the Steamship Authority, not including the direct phone calls to the police department.
Mr. Israel agreed that it was a large project in a small place. He understood the issues she raised, and felt all were valid points. They were will still obligated to discuss the proposal in a public forum. Mr. Kristal interjected that there were issues with the parking lot’s design that had to be addressed. Mrs. Velanti did not think they should be inviting traffic in a heavily congested area where they could barely address the issues.
Kathryn Scott questioned whether the applicant’s design improved safety relative to the conflict points, etc. She called the police department to secure their records for the actual number of accidents that occurred in the municipal parking lot, to find that there had been only one accident at the lot. If this was being used as the rationale for designing the parking lot, it did not substantiate the claim. She questioned the rationale in the proposal to separate Stop & Shop’s project and their plans to redesign the municipal parking lot, when the proposal was impacting the function of the parking lot (i.e truck deliveries). As a resident living on Norton Lane, she’s never encountered the “standstill” or “mess” mentioned repeatedly throughout the meeting to describe
the traffic flow in the area, and found the comments to be “emotional” rather than “objective”. She thought it was important to keep “Norton Lane” open, rather than to have the cars “snake around the parking lot” to generate more air pollution. Ms. Scott believed there had to be better alternatives to the proposal submitted by Stop & Shop that in her opinion appeared to benefit their operations.
Mr. Coogan clarified for the record that they were not prepared to discuss the traffic or its impact until the studies were completed. The applicant from the onset understood the parking lot was town property. In their initial proposal, they submitted a plan illustrating the trucks entering the lot in its present configuration and unloading as currently practiced. People questioned it, and so they offered an alternative. Stop & Shop is willing to pursue the project without altering the parking lot, but it contradicted Mr. Orleans’ suggestion, that the project went further than just the building. It would fail to address the issues raised at this meeting if they did not consider the impacts to the parking lot. He also wanted to correct a misconception that surfaced during the meeting, about the
plan solely benefiting Stop & Shop. He explained that the plan for the parking lot came up in a meeting between himself, Mr. Grand and Mr. Krystal. It did not originate at Stop & Shop. The concept was pursued, because they felt it addressed several issues. Tonight’s presentation was solely intended to solicit everyone’s input to see if can develop a plan that works well for everyone.
Mr. Chapdelaine inquired if the Board of Selectmen would consider creating a group of town boards to work out the concerns they’ve expressed at the meeting and to develop an alternative plan that was workable for Stop & Shop and acceptable to the town.
Hyuan Suk Lee, a town resident noted that there were several issues with the current proposal, namely that it did not provide a green wall or treatment to screen the parking lot’s activities. He did not find the plan to address public safety for both pedestrians and cyclists. The parking lot contrary to some of the comments at the meeting was a mess, and pedestrian unfriendly. He did not understand why people are not commenting on the size of the structure and its impact on the immediate area and parking lot. The public restrooms were a necessity. Mr. Israel agreed that they could not divorce the parking lot from Stop & Shop expansion.
Mr. Kristal asked Mr. Lee if he would submit his suggestions in writing to the Board of Selectmen.
Mr. Peak wanted to add to the record that the project encroached too closely to the Cromwell Lane and Union Mall Corridor. He thought it should be clearly delineated on top and accentuated even into the parking lot whether the comfort station stayed or not. As Mr. Coogan pointed out earlier in the discussion, the trucks did not have to be re-routed; they could continue to follow the current pattern without having to relocate the public restrooms. On the other hand, he agreed with the suggestions to close Norton Street, because it eliminated some of the traffic in the parking lot. He did not see how anyone could legally curtail or shut off the access on Cromwell Lane when people lived on the street.
Mr. Peak further disagreed with Mr. Coogan’s comment upon the reliance on experts to be able to issue permits. Town boards issued permits. He also wanted to say that the applicant could have thrown away the parking plan, but opted not to do so. They could have just pursued the building, or as some people suggested, keep the building on their property and not intruded on the parking lot. It would have eliminated much of the controversy. He also wanted to clarify for the record that it was not his intention to say that the parking plan was done for their benefit, just that the way the parking lot was being reconfigured suggested that it benefited the applicant more than it benefited the town.
Mr. Israel did not see how they could divorce the two, given that the applicant needed access to the 43 parking spaces they were creating in the ground level garage through the municipal parking lot.
Mr. Coogan never indicated or stated that the parking lot was “a throw away piece to the project”, because Stop & Shop and the parking lot have to coexist. It was an integral part of the project.
Mr. Snyder asked Mr. Kristal for the opportunity to comment. He recommended entering into executive session to discuss contract negotiations and other potential litigation and not to reconvene Mr. Israel assured the public that the Board of Selectmen was not going to discuss the actual layout of the parking lot during the executive session. Mr. Kristal noted that the Selectmen was conducting the hearing on September 3, 2013 at the Tisbury Senior Center. m/s/c 3/0/0
Mr. Peak entertained a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Aldrin so moved. Mr. Thompson seconded the motion, which motion carried. 4/0/0
1. Peg Regan, Mass in Motion MV Program Director
RE: Recommendations for a new Program Director
PRO FORM Meeting opened, conducted and closed in due form at 7:38 P.M. (m/s/c 4/0/0)
Patricia V. Harris, Secretary
APPROVAL: Approved and accepted as official minutes;
Date L. Anthony Peak