Skip Navigation
This table is used for column layout.
Planning Board Minutes 04/30/14

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


DATE:           April 30, 2014
TIME:                   4:40 PM

ATTENDANCE:     Aldrin, Doble (Associate Mbr), Peak, Stephenson and Thompson

PLACE:          Town Hall Annex


1. Vineyard House Inc.
RE: Invitation

Board members were advised that they were invited to a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, May 5, 2014 at 10 AM. Parties interested in attending are asked to RSVP.

1.      Stop & Shop, Water Street
RE: Proposal for expansion
Attendance: Benjamin Robinson, Hyung K. Lee, Dana Hodsdon

A. Peak informed the Board that he had been approach by members of the MV Commission, local officials and private citizens to inquire if the Planning Board intended to have an official statement regarding Stop & Shop’s proposal for the upcoming hearing at the MV Commission.  A. Peak believed the issues raised by the applicant’s proposal warranted a meeting to discuss whether or not the Board was prepared to make a statement on Stop & Shop’s plans, since they’ve been discussing the project at their meetings, and expressing their concerns with long-standing issues (i.e. traffic mitigation, pedestrian access and safety, stormwater management, etc. ) on an on-going basis at the Commission’s hearings.

C. Doble, Associate Board Member offered to prepare a draft letter to the MV Commission in the Board’s behalf for their review and endorsement. Copies of the draft letter were emailed to board members to expedite the discussions.  Board members were presently reviewing a second version of the draft letter, dated 29 April 14 to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

C. Doble reported for the record that the content of the letter reflected the Board’s comments on pedestrian access and safety, traffic mitigation, and wastewater management. She took the liberty of adding a section addressing the issues she had with the applicant’s offers. She explained that she had evaluated various aspects of the applicant’s proposal against the MV Commissions’ policy on Grading, Drainage and Stormwater Management  and the MV Commission’s Island Plan for additional information to find an excessive number of deficiencies. And while the zoning ordinances were not developed to address a project of this scale, she found that the overlay regulations did in fact regulate noise levels, vibrations, etc. in terms of protecting the quality of life, which was an important consideration.  

C. Doble informed the Board that the letter was constructed to demonstrate that the submittals for the application were inadequate and incomplete to assess the project’s true impact(s) on the town, and that the offers lacked the specificity to determine if they would adequately address the issues with handicap accessibility, landscaping, etc., or even cover the true costs of the improvements the town will have to provide as a result of the applicant’s operations.  In her opinion, the MOA fell short and left the town essentially financial responsible for much of the cost.

R. Aldrin thought H. Stephenson’s letter was fine (calming), but preferred C. Doble’s letter because “it went to the heart of the matter”.  H. Stephenson recognized that the letter did not fully represent the Planning Board’s opinion, because some of the comments reflected issues that were raised at the Water Street Municipal Parking Lot Design Committee and some of his personal opinions on issues that were not specifically addressed with the Planning Board.  

R. Aldrin recommended C. Doble’s letter with one recommendation. He thought the second bullet (The reliance on town property and resources and the uncertainty of future impacts creates an undue burden for the Town. This application should be denied.) in the third page of the draft letter should be the opening statement.  

H. Lee noted that people were confused with the proposal, in that the parking lot was separated from the entire project’s review, while the applicant’s proposal clearly demonstrated that it was entirely dependent on the parking lot for its operations.  R. Aldrin concurred, but felt they had to move forward on a statement, because they had until tomorrow to clearly state their position. It was therefore important to start the letter with their recommendation for a denial, if they all agreed, then list the issues that led them to the conclusion.

C. Doble thought the fourth bullet (In its present form the Stop & Shop proposal places too much reliance on town property and resources and creates an undue burden on the town.), H. Stephenson wrote as a ‘possible ending statement’ could also serve as the opening statement.  

B. Robinson thought they could simplify their comments under Traffic Mitigation by stating “There is no way for Stop & Shop in their current proposal to mitigate traffic.” C. Doble explained that she wanted to point out to the MV Commission that “the applicant was not delivering “anything”  in its offers to the Commission to mitigate any of the issues created by their proposal.  She referred to a couple examples of the applicant’s offers to demonstrate that they were not committed in establishing a working relationship or partnership with the town to address any of the issues that they could resolve.

Catherine ??, town resident noted that none of the issues listed in the Planning Board’s letter to the MV Commission dated 25 March 2013 were ever addressed by the applicant during the public proceedings, except for the relocation of the garage’s entrance. She felt the applicant’s non-response was deliberate, and strategically intended to wear everyone down.  It also concerned her that the MV Commission has continued the review process without requiring the applicant to comply with their submittal requirements. The process as a whole had created a negative ripple effect on the immediate abutters, who were experiencing a great amount of stress because of this project. Catherine ?? also reviewed the Commission’s Island Plan, and read that it opposed the “big box” structure the applicant was pursuing. She did not understand why the MV Commission would entertain such a proposal when it clearly conflicted with their own study i.e. Island Plan.

H. Stephenson thought the language describing the MV Commission’s policy on grading, drainage and stormwater should be incorporated at the end of the letter or as an appendix. He agreed with R. Aldrin’s that the opening statement should be their official statement, and did not object at having the text in the 2nd bullet serve that purpose. Although the additional language pertaining to the application’s shortcomings was fine, he thought they should be condensed.

A. Peak asked J. Thompson for his recommendations.  J. Thompson thought the letter was fine. His primary issue with the proposal was its scale, and was not sure what the Planning Board could do to have the applicant address it. H. Stephenson replied that they could simply tell the applicant to reduce the building’s overall size. B. Robinson agreed.

Additional discussions ensued, and A. Peak noted that there appeared to be a consensus among the board members with the substance of C. Doble’s letter with few  minor revision; and suggested leaving the letter more or less intact, except for the opening paragraph.  A. Peak suggesting modifying the opening statement so say “… after listening to a year of testimony and trying to work with the applicant for more than a year in an attempt to find ways to help integrate their project into the scale and cultural context of our community , we have come to the conclusion that the proposal is too big, relies too much on public space to satisfy the basic fundamental elements of the DRI requirements, and is focused  on a business model of a big box type store as opposed to a true and more limited grocery store”.   

C. Doble explained that the letter was structured to reflect their frustration with the applicant, who chose not to respond to any of their concerns or suggestions. Given that this has been their pattern from the beginning, there was no other recourse then to stop the process, and deny the application.  C. Doble agreed with R. Aldrin’s recommendation , and supported the idea of changing the opening statement to reflect their official position. A. Peak added that the statement could be followed with language that said,” this conclusion has been reached as a result of ….”

Board members entered several recommendations for further discussion, and C. Doble offered to condense the section entitled Surface Water Drainage by eliminating the Stormwater Maintenance and Operation Plan’s criteria, and the criteria listed in other sections of the letter . She offered to re-write the draft before town meeting.

A. Peak did not think  C. Doble would have the time to re-draft the letter prior to town meeting, nor did he think it was necessary to re-write the draft. He thought they could start by renaming the last section in the letter to “Possible Positions of the Planning Board”. He then suggested that a fellow board member could enter a motion to adopt an “X” position to this project as a starting point.

H. Stephenson moved to adopt the second bullet point (The reliance on town property and resources and the uncertainty of future impacts creates an undue burden for the Town, and therefore this application should be denied.) as the Planning Board’s primary position with a minor grammatical correction.  R. Aldrin seconded the motion. A. Peak opened the motion for a discussion.  R. Aldrin recommended repeating the statement between each paragraph to drive the point home.

H. Stephenson thought they could drive the point with every example (i.e. directing the runoff into the sewer system does not meet the MV Commission’s policy acceptable practice).

H. Lee agreed that the first sentence should clearly state the Board’s position. B. Robinson thought the Board should start with the premise that the Board rejects the proposal so that everything beyond that statement followed the logic through.

R. Aldrin was not as concerned with the syntax at this juncture, and asked the Board to vote on the motion. As previously recommended, he hoped the board would reiterate the opening statement within their letter to the MV Commission, at least a couple of times. C. Doble thought she could tie the statement with some of the examples she’s listed.

C. Doble asked the Board for the opportunity to rewrite the letter, so that she could email them the draft for their recommendations first thing in the morning.  Board members agreed.  R. Aldrin asked for a vote on the previous motion.  A. Peak asked the Board for a vote “to adopt more or less the language in the second bullet point listed as a possible ending statement in the draft letter “ with an amendment”  to repeat or reiterate that basic call for denial at several points within the subsequent supportive text”.  And the Board so moved  4/0/0

R. Adrin moved to “trust the judgment of C. Doble and H. Stephenson to modify the letter as recommended for submittal to the MV Commission without further Board review”.   J. Thompson seconded motion.

H. Stephenson preferred sending the Board the revised draft first thing in the morning. A. Peak agreed with H. Stephenson and thought it would help if everyone had the opportunity to review the letter for errors.  C. Doble concurred.

A. Peak reminded the Board that R. Aldrin’s motion was on the floor. Board members were informed that they were asked “to trust C. Doble and H. Stephenson for the final language, now that they’ve reached a consensual position, which will be reviewed by the other board members to the extent possible”.  Board members agreed, and the motion carried 4/0/0

C. Doble asked A. Peak if he felt comfortable reading an excerpt of the first paragraph at the public hearing on the board’s behalf. A. Peak replied in the affirmative.   R. Aldrin thought the speech could be limited to the bullet points.

H. Stephenson noted that there were a number of concerns that they were concerned about, such as LEEDs certification, housing, renewal energy, etc.  H. Stephenson inquired if there was any way to include a comment about any of these issues in the letter.  C. Doble thought it could be a concluding piece in the letter.

Benjamin Robinson recommended adding a comment at the end of the first paragraph that said “below is the summary of the major concerns, but it is not limited to these…” to give them the understanding that there are other issues. R. Aldrin thought they could enter them as bullets. H. Stephenson agreed.

In a conversation with a former member of the MV Commission, H. Lee was led to understand that the review process was flawed and unpredictable.  Given that the Commissioners were going to be inundated with written testimony, studies, etc., it was important for the few boards that have vocalized the concerns of its citizens to maintain to state their position in the opening statement and to stay focused on the larger issues, not to exceed ten (10) bullet items.  

R. Aldrin again recommended moving forward on the letter, and not worrying about the  syntax or grammar, because the intent for the letter was limited to stating their position on the proposal, and their reasons for taking that position.  He thought the letter should remain objective.  Board members agreed

PRO FORM        Meeting opened, conducted and closed in due form at  5:45 P.M.  (m/s/c  4/0/0)          
Respectfully submitted;
Patricia V. Harris, Secretary

APPROVAL:       Approved and accepted as official minutes;

______________  _________________________
Date            L. Anthony Peak