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Planning Board Minutes 11/06/2013

P.O. BOX 602
(508) 696-4270
Fax (508) 696-7341


DATE:           November 6, 2013
TIME:                   7:03 PM

PLACE:          Town Hall Annex

ATTENDANCE:     Aldrin, Peak, Seidman, Stephenson and Thompson

MINUTES:                As referred in the October 23, 2013 Meeting Agenda
                        23 October 2013– AVAILABLE


7:00 PM Philippe Jordi (Island Housing Trust) and Jamie Weisman Re: Water Street
                Attendance: Harold Chapdelaine, Melinda Loberg (FinCom)

Mr. Jordi notified the Board that Island Housing Trust (IHT, hereinafter) had decided to move forward on Mr. Weisman’s proposal because the design complimented the existing vernacular in the neighborhood, and met the design principles IHT specified for the project.

The design principles were geared towards “promoting sustainable and smart growth development within the context of the existing harbor district”, and divided into two major categories e.g. neighborhood and building.

Mr. Jordi indicated that the multi-family structure was being proposed in a business district with relatively easy access to various civic, cultural, educational and recreational activities, due to its location.  The location provided future tenants access to public transportation because of its proximity to the SSA, which offered free public transportation to the Park-N-Ride and MVTA’s bus routes.  

The building itself was designed to provide one-bedroom efficiency apartments between 600 and 900 sq. ft., for low and moderate income earners. The larger accommodations however were to be reserved for the handicap.

Mr. Jordi referred to the site plan, noting that IHT was considering a parking area up front for temporary use of service vehicles or services such as “The Lift”.  IHT was committed to maximizing the building’s energy efficiency, and planned to incorporate simple, durable and energy-efficient features “to ensure the units ongoing affordability”.  

IHT was also delineating the public and semi-public spaces and offering decks on four of the five units to provide the renters some private space.  The public spaces appeared to be primarily located in the common areas on the ground floor.  

Mr. Jordi at the conclusion of his brief presentation, inquired if the board members had the opportunity to review the zoning regulations for a definitive answer about the application process.

Mr. Peak inquired about the parking area they had created in front of the building,  because it appeared that the vehicles had to back up on Water Street to exit the property. It presented a traffic hazard.

Mr. Weisman replied that they could accommodate a 30 ft. wide bricked plaza in the front of the building. Although IHT has not made a decision about its use, it could serve as public space and parking. IHT was thinking they could use the area primarily as open space, with the option to have it also serve as a temporary drop-off area for the residents. Mr. Jordi thought the 30 ft. setback was much more in keeping with the streetscape.

Mr. Stephenson did not want to see the area used for parking, and thought the bricked plaza could deter people from parking there for long periods of time.  Mr. Weisman learned that the bus service operated from 5:30 AM – 10:30 PM and managed to make its stops every fifteen minutes . He also learned and confirmed that town residents living on Main Street to Franklin Street, and the side streets in between  the main roads were allowed to purchase a residential parking permit for $25.00 a year, that essentially allowed them to park in a four hour parking space for as long as seventy-two hours.

Mr. Weisman noted that there were two proposals in the mini-competition, in which one of the proposals offered parking. The issue with the one proposal was that the vehicles had to back out into the road, and IHT did not think it was acceptable. The one question he wanted to address with the Board pertained to the permitting process. At their last discussion with the Board, they were going to be advised if they had to pursue a permit with the Zoning Board of Appeals or a special permit with the Planning Board.

Mr. Peak read the sections of the bylaw that were recommended to him, and did not believe that the regulation would allow the Planning Board to issue them a special permit for the proposal.  He noted that the Planning Board was pursuing a bylaw amendment that would clarify the issue, but that they could not apply the regulation until the town voted to approve the amendment in April 2014.

Mr. Weisman inquired about the issue.  Mr. Peak replied that the bylaw did not provide language that would permit a strictly residential use in the business districts. It allowed a mixed use provided the residential unit was on the second floor.

Mr. Jordi indicated that they could also pursue the project under Chapter 40B, but that the permitting process was cumbersome. Mr. Stephenson thought they could pursue the project under Chapter 40B in parallel with their efforts to amend the bylaw, if they were pressed for time. Mr. Jordi  agreed, but preferred working with the town.

Mr. Peak referred the Board to section 05.11.00 of the zoning bylaw governing permitted uses in the business district, and noted that it did not mention any residential use. Section 05.12.01, entitled Uses Requiring a Special Permit from the Board of Appeals implied that there could be a solely residential structure, so that if there were no commercial uses, one could argue that the regulation did not apply, so that they could have a private dwelling or apartments by special permit.

Mr. Stephenson thought it was important to see how the building inspector interpreted the regulation, because the building in question has always been a residence.  Mr. Peak agreed, but further noted that the property had not been used as a residence over two years.

Mr. Seidman thought they should pursue the bylaw amendment to clarify the language.  Mr. Chapdelaine noted that the building has historically functioned as a residential use. Mr. Peak noted that the language specifically dealt with the conversion of properties to business uses, but did not address the conversion of a business structure or lot into a residential use. He wanted to discuss his impressions with the Building Inspector. Unfortunately Mr. Barwick was on vacation until November 12, 2013.

Mr. Thompson inquired if the Planning Board couldn’t simply send the Board of Selectmen a letter in support of IHT. Mr. Peak stated that the applicant had to go to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a special permit.

On a different note, Mr. Jordi noted that he was concerned about the store’s impact on the north side of the property, specifically the noise the mechanicals on the roof would be generating.  He spoke with Mr. Coogan to request a meeting with Stop & Shop’s representatives, and was referred to Charles Sullivan, a local architect involved in the project.  Mr. Peak reminded Mr. Jordi that the MV Commission was continuing the hearing tomorrow, so that he could submit his concerns in writing.

Mr. Weisman inquired about the status of the wedge. There was a question about its ownership. Mr. Jordi replied that Stop & Shop owned the wedge. Mr. Seidman heard that they might donate the parcel to IHT.

Mr. Peak questioned whether they could change the direction the vehicles pull into the front plaza so that they pulled over and parked parallel to the road. It eliminated the safety hazard created by backing out into the road. Mr. Chapdelaine thought people would abuse the accommodations. Mr. Seidman thought they could erect a sign prohibiting parking, or restricting the use to residents only. Mr. Seidman recommended that they alter the plan to reflect the parallel parking.

Mr. Peak inquired if they were planning to have solar energy. Mr. Weisman replied in the affirmative, and was concerned about the impacts the buildings on either side of the property could have on the project.  Mr. Peak noted that the law protected their right to access solar power. Mr. Chapdelaine recommended that they specify this in their plans.

Mr. Peak offered to contact Mr. Jordi about the permitting process as soon as he had the ability to discuss the regulation(s) in question with the building inspector.


1. Vineyard Land Surveying & Engineering,
RE: Form A Application – Ralph M Packer, 299 Northern Pines Road

Board members were advised that the applicant had the property line created in the initial proposal moved six feet from the electric fence, so that it remained on his lot.

There being no comment, Mr. Peak entertained a motion to endorse the modification as an ANR, under the Subdivision Control Law.  Mr. Stephenson so moved.  Mr. Thompson seconded the motion, which motion carried.  4/0/0

2. Stop & Shop (S&S, hereinafter), Water Street
RE: Revisions (Façade of the building)
Present: Harold Chapdelane, Hyung Suk Lee, Dana Hodson

Mr. Peak understood S&S was presenting their revised plans at the hearing tomorrow evening, and thought it would be advantageous if they shared their impressions, and consolidated their position.

Mr. Stephenson inquired if everyone had the opportunity to review the plans the MV Commission posted on their website reflecting the modifications the applicant was proposing. He noted that they were proposing a larger setback from Water Street, providing an outdoor seating area in front, and adding a balcony on the second floor.  Turning the corner onto Norton Street, they were still viewing a flat façade that pushed out all the way to the edge of the property line.

Mr. Chapdelaine noted that the William Street/Tisbury Historic Commission met on the proposal, and asked the MV Commission at the last public hearing to have the applicant reduce the size of the building by 30%. At their meeting earlier in the evening, the Historic Commission commented that the proposal brought them a unique opportunity to redefine Water Street in perpetuity. They would like to see the applicant move the building back thirty feet to break the long flat façade and create pedestrian space.  Mr. Hyung thought they should go back thirty-five feet.  Mr. Chapdelaine mentioned that the Historical Commission was of the consensus that the applicant should  the reduce the size of the building so that they could move the structure  back fifteen feet off the municipal lot, and fifteen feet off Cromwell Lane. It would also eliminate a number of the massing issues.

Mr. Chapdelaine recapped some of the applicant’s comments from past hearings, noting that the applicant claimed they needed a larger store, three times it current size, to accommodate a five percent increase in customers.  Mr. Seidman disagreed and thought S&S would attract a few people from Edgartown’s store, but that it would essentially be “a zero sum gain”.  It was his impression that the applicant was not going to be persuaded to reduce or to move their building. Mr. Chapdelaine did not see why the community had to tolerate the imposition of “disproportionate massing” in that location.

Mr. Lee believed the applicant should be pursuing the whole food model similar to Trader Joe for the location on the Vineyard, instead of rigidly pursuing the warehouse model one normally found in the suburbs, when the applicant, had constructed and successfully operated stores similar to Trader Joe in Europe. It appeared to him that the American subsidiary may not have encountered a similar situation and are at a loss. If corporate headquarters came to the Vineyard and studied the site, they’d realize that they did not need to expand the store threefold to serve this community. They’d understand that the community would be best served if they provided a variety of products, because it had nothing to do with quantity.

Mr. Stephenson thought it was important to bring to the applicant’s attention that the business model they were pursing was based on gross assumptions of the American market that did not pertain to the location or the town. It was also important to bring to their attention that while the commercial buildings in the business district were constructed to the property lines, their proposal departed from the prevailing architectural landscape.  The structure encompassed several lots and massive. They had to address the structure’s visual impact, and believed it was too important to stop suggesting that they push back the building and create a plaza on Water Street.

Mr. Stephenson thought the applicant could also reduce the visual impact of the flat façade on Norton Street by reducing the 20 ft. ceiling height of the retail space, and redesigning the roofline.  Mr. Stephenson added that they should  make sure that the applicant’s structure is LEED compliant. Mr. Seidman believed the applicant volunteered to make the building energy efficient.  Mr. Hyung Lee recalled that the MV Commission raised the issue, and the applicant in return agreed. It was not voluntary.

Mr. Seidman noted that the applicant was not adding any length to the building. Mr. Chapdelaine agreed, noting that they were referring to the additional height and volume.  Mr. Chapdelaine further added that the applicant was also taking away the green space, which currently comprised  about thirty percent of the lot.  Mr. Seidman acknowledged.

Mr. Chapdelaine did not believe the applicant would acquiesce, but hoped that in the negotiations, the applicant would consider moving back the building at least twenty feet.

Mr. Hyung Lee was concerned that the applicant had not responded to their suggestions with substantive modifications from the beginning of the public review process.  Mr. Chapdelaine noted that no one had raised the issue about the size of the building until last month. Mr. Seidman disagreed, noting that the applicant had made several modifications to their initial proposal. Mr. Chapdelaine concurred, but felt they had to address the size of the building.

Mr. Stephenson thought they could ask the applicant to illustrate their European model and make the case that the assumptions they’ve made about their stores in North America was not appropriate for the Town of Tisbury. They were a small New England village with tightly compacted narrow streets. He asked if Mr. Hyung Lee could obtain visual examples of the types of stores Ahold operates in Europe, so that they could ask them why they could not operate a similar whole food model in Vineyard Haven. Mr. Hyung replied that he had provided the MV Commission with examples of the store model, but was ignored.

Mr. Chapdelaine doubted that Ahold would change their concept, because they did not have a mechanism to force them to alter their plan. Mr. Seidman indicated that they could also abandon their proposal and let the building go derelict.  Mr. Chapdelaine did not want to see this happen. Mr. Aldrin agreed and did not think they could expect the applicant to change their business model.

Mr. Chapdelaine thought they had to articulate the fact that they are a small village and not a suburb, so that it would benefit everyone if they rethought the project to consider a European model. Mr. Stephenson questioned if the applicant would listen to their request. Mr. Chapdelaine noted that the MV Commission was starting to listen to the town, so that it was important to articulate their thoughts. Mr. Seidman questioned whether Mr. Stephenson could articulate his thoughts as the Board’s opinion, when they were his personal opinion. He hoped that they would be able to vote on the matter.

Mr. Chapdelaine reiterated that the Historic Commissions was of the consensus that they would like to see the mass of the building reduced. Mr. Hyuan Lee thought they also had to decide whether they were willing live with an expansion or the redevelopment of the property. Mr. Chapdelaine thought there was a fine line between reaching out and finding a compromise with the applicant as opposed to driving S&S away. The latter would be short sighted and irresponsive of the community.  Mr. Seidman agreed, stating that the applicant could abandon the project and let the building go derelict.  Mr. Hyuan Lee was willing to take the risk. Mr. Chapdelaine and Mr. Seidman did not think it was a risk the community could afford. They could not ignore the economic consequences.  Mr. Chapdelaine stressed the importance in approaching this situation carefully, because he did want to see the economic ramifications that could result from driving away a grocery store from their business district.

Regardless of the preferred modality, Mr. Peak noted that they were not recognizing the fact that unlike any other venue on the island, state or continent, the entirety of Vineyard Haven was basically a cul-de-sac.  There was virtually no place for any overflow in the traffic to go. He further noted that they could not compare the two S&S stores, when the store in Edgartown had three routes in which to exit the store, and Vineyard Haven had one. Because they cannot change or fix the problem, the applicant had to adapt, and alter their plans to come up with a store that was suitable for that location. If they cannot adapt, they had to consider the possibility that they are not the tenant best suited for the town.  Mr. Seidman thought it was too short sighted.  Mr. Peak asked Mr. Seidman to explain his position.

Mr. Seidman did not think the store would have a significant impact on the traffic in the area. Reports provided by the applicant indicated that they were projecting an increase of five percent.  Mr. Stephenson thought the traffic was going to be self-limiting.  Mr. Chapdelaine stated that the increase would have an impact on travel time.  

Mr. Stephenson redirected the discussions, and reiterated that the applicant has to understand that they have to look at the context of the area. They have to understand that they are a small and compact New England town, and not a rural, urban center or suburb, so that they business model they are accustomed to does not apply for this site. He was not sure that they should focus on the European model.

Mr. Chapdelaine believed the reference was important because it related to the size of the structure. By referring to the European model, they were essentially asking them to reduce the size of the building. He did not see any harm in bringing up the fact that they’ve been able to provide similar services to European communities in much smaller ways.  If they could adapt their business model to accommodate smaller communities, they could do the same here.  He believed they had to clearly state it to the applicant.

Mr. Seidman noted that the applicant had reduced the building by three thousand square feet. Mr. Chapdelaine advised Mr. Seidman that the applicant reduced the building by 1500 sq. ft.  Mr. Lee requested a clarification about their strategy. He inquired if the first issue they were going to address pertained to the scale of the building. Mr. Lee recommended approaching the subject by requiring the applicant to meet certain setback requirements at all elevations. Mr. Lee thought they should ask the MV Commission not to divorce the municipal parking lot from the project, because it is part of the project.

Mr. Chapdelaine recommended a different tactic, and suggested asking the MV Commission to postpone a final decision on the building until they received a recommendation from the Town of Tisbury on the parking lot.  Mr. Lee thought it was a grave error to the divorce the two, because they were interrelated. Mr. Chapdelaine and Mr. Seidman believed that the decision pertained to the MV Commission. Mr. Peak understood that the Commissioners were cognizant of the fact that their decision on the building would have to take into account its impact on the municipal parking lot. Mr. Chapdelaine noted that the applicant was not required to provide any parking because the town did not have any parking requirements in the BI District. Mr. Peak acknowledged, and added that the MV Commission had the ability to require parking above any beyond their regulations, and the applicant had to comply.

Mr. Chapdelaine informed the Board that he was not going to make the public hearing tomorrow evening, and asked if they would articulate the Historic Commission’s comments and suggestions. It appeared to him that they were all in agreement with:

1)  reducing the scale of the building by thirty percent, 2) moving back the structure thirty feet, and 3) creating open space.

Mr. Stephenson noted that they also had questions about the bulk of the building, in that the applicant was proposing to max out the use of four commercial lots  to construct a massive structure not at all compatible with the neighborhoods.

Mr. Chapdelaine asked Mr. Stephenson what he was thinking about to reduce the mass of the building. Mr. Lee indicated that the discussions pertained to the retail space; it did not include the square footage for the prep areas(5,000 sq. ft.), storage space, etc. They did not need wide aisles or wide open spaces to improve their shopping experience. Mr. Lee in addition described a couple modifications to the design that would reduce the mass of the building. Mr. Chapdelaine thought they could recommend a design workshop with the applicant to share their ideas.

Mr. Stephenson thought the MV Commission could be asked to host the discussions, so that they can explore “better ways to handle” the project, and extend an invitation to the other architects on the island to tap their expertise.

Mr. Seidman strongly recommended Mr. Lee to provide ample photos of real stores reflecting the size they’d like to recommend to the applicant. He felt they had to come prepared with examples (except for Trader Joe), otherwise it was a non-starter.

Mr. Chapdelaine asked Mr. Stephenson to stress to the MV Commissioners the need for the workshop, because the venue will provide them with a host of information about the applicant.

Everyone agreed that the applicant was not going to agree to their recommendations, so it was important to pursue the concept of a workshop. Mr. Chapdelaine added that they had to appreciate the fact that they were competing with public relation professionals, who have utilized their skills quite adeptly to manipulate the discussions.

Mrs. Loberg left the MV Commission’s hearing with the impression that they were planning on devoting a whole meeting on the traffic. Mr. Lee noted that the Land Use Planning Committee was planning on discussing traffic on November 12, 2013.  She also felt the MV Commission was trying to convey to the town “to get their act together, so that they can tell them what they wanted”. She thought the town appeared a bit disorganized because they had yet to meet to discuss the parking lot or to discuss the ramifications of the traffic impact. Adding to this perception was the fact that they did not agree on the architectural features of the building.  It was not the way they wanted to appear, especially when dealing with very detailed professionals.

Mr. Aldrin thought the Board should simply state that the store had to fit their village . Regardless of size, any improvement was better than the existing strucure.

Mr. Peak inquired about the MV Commission’s schedule. Mr. Lee replied that they had scheduled the continuation of the hearing on November 7, 2013. Mr. Peak inquired if they planned to have additional meetings. They had to know the actual schedule, because they had to advertise a meeting in the local paper for a minimum of two weeks. Mr. Peak was advised that the meeting had to be posted only forty-eight hours prior to the meeting. Mr. Peak noted that they wanted to solicit comments and build a consensus from a broader base, the needed time to prepare and disseminate information.

Mr. Peak requested information about their timeline. Mr. Lee indicated that the Land Use Planning Committee was meeting on November 12, 2013 to discuss traffic.  The Parking Lot Planning & Design Committee were due to meet on November 14, 2013 and the MV Commission had scheduled to hear Stop & Shop’s proposal on November 21, 2013.  Mr. Peak noticed that the extended schedule indicated that the continuation of the public hearing on November 21, 2013 was to be confirmed. He thought they should ask the Commissioners to continue the hearing the first week in December or the first week in January, after the holidays. Board members agreed.

Mr. Peak thought they consider holding the workshop on 11/20/13 or on another day. Mr. Stephenson recommended a weekend. Mr. Peak thought people were guarded about their weekends. Mr. Peak asked the board if they would poll some of the architects to see if they would be interested in joining them on 11/23/13 or 11/30/13.  Mr. Chapdelaine inquired if they opted against the initial recommendation to have the MV Commission hold the workshop.  Mr. Peak thought they should prepare for the possibility that the MV Commission may not want to participate in the workshop.

Mr. Stephenson spoke with Mr. London about the workshop, and thought it was a good idea to have the stockholders meet at a workshop. He offered to speak with Mr. London again to inform him that they planned to broach the subject at the hearing.

If they could get the MV Commission to commit to continue the hearing the first week in January, Mr. Peak thought they could schedule a meeting around the second week of December.  Mr. Seidman departed at 9:15 PM

Mr. Chapdelaine asked if they could return to the topics they wanted to present to the MV Commission tomorrow night at the hearing. It was his impression that they all agreed on a  smaller scale for the building, the parking lot, and the mechanicals on the roof.

Mrs. Loberg reiterated that they needed to gather its thoughts to speak with one voice, and explain that the workshop is for the town’s benefit, because they’ve not been able to do this as a group.  

Mr. Lee added that they need to ask the applicant about their proposal for ground water collection and management, because it was never discussed.

Mr. Peak asked the Board if they wanted to write the MV Commission a letter officially asking them to continue Stop & Shop’s hearing until early January to give the town the opportunity to discuss the proposal and to present to the Commission a cohesive vision of Stop & Shop’s place in the community.  Mr. Aldrin reiterated the recommendation as a motion. Mr. Stephenson seconded the motion. 4/0/0   Mr. Stephenson asked Mr. Peak if he would consider meeting for lunch tomorrow to generate the letter.  Mr. Peak replied in the affirmative.

9:30 PM Melinda Loberg re New Draw Bridge

Mrs. Loberg informed the Board that the state awarded the contract to construct the new bridge to Middlesex Company, who promised to finish the project on time. She described the company’s work schedule and time table, noting that they were currently in the process of conducting surveys, relocating the shellfish beds and surveying the federal channel.  

They were going to start driving test piles in December 2013-January 2014, start pouring the concrete in January 2014, and demolish the house around this time.  They planned to work eight hours a day, and five days a week.

She understood that the contractor and the state were going to be meeting bi-weekly, and interface closely with the harbormaster, the DPW and the shellfish constable.  The Island Bridge Committee comprising of representatives from the towns of Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven were to continue to meet, under the auspices of the MV Commission during the construction phase to make sure the town’s interests are protected.

Board members were advised that the bridge was due to open for traffic by September 2015.  The temporary bridge was to be demolished and the park constructed within six months or by June 2016.  


1.  Tisbury Zoning Board of Appeals
A. Public Hearing Notice – Jeffry Schwartz, AP 04D08.20 (Expansion/pre-existing, non-conforming guest house)
B. Public Hearing Notice – Ryan Shea, AP 08A03 (accessory apartment)
C. Public Hearing Notice – Orland and Kim Donald, AP 07L06 (demo/recon of pre-existing, non-conforming dwelling)
D. Special Permit Denial (2149) – Scott Maccaferri, AP 08N03
E. Special Permit Case #2153 – John E. McDonald, AP 05H05.1
F. Special Permit Case #2154 - John E. McDonald, AP 05H05.1
G. Special Permit Case #2155 – Michael Cochran, AP 16C2.14
H. Special Permit Case #2157 – Daniel E. Weiss, Jr., AP 07N03
I. Special Permit Case #2156 – Carroll Buress, AP 12B08

2. John W. Grande, Town Administrator
RE: Special Town Meeting on December 10, 2013

3. Tisbury Conservation Commission
A. Public Hearing Notice – Peter Givertzman, AP 07D02
B. Public Hearing Notice – RM Packer Co, AP 10B01

C. Public Hearing Notice – Michael McLaughlin, AP 11A04

4. Commonwealth of Massachusetts
RE: Environmental Notification Form by Vineyard Land Surveying & Engineering
for Tisbury Wharf Company, 133 Beach Road

5. Thomas Reuter
RE: Zoning Bulletin, 10 October 2013

6. MV Commission
A. 01 November 2013 Extended Meeting Schedule
B. Stop & Shop Plans, staff notes, etc.

PRO FORM        Meeting opened, conducted and closed in due form at 10:15 P.M.          (m/s/c  5/0/0)          
Respectfully submitted;
Patricia V. Harris, Secretary

APPROVAL:       Approved and accepted as official minutes;

______________          _________________________
Date                    L. Anthony Peak