A key subcommittee of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission voted unanimously on Monday to recommend that the controversial three-story garage built by Joseph G. Moujabber in Oak Bluffs without a proper permit three years ago should be reviewed by the full commission as a development of regional impact (DRI).
The vote by the commission’s land use planning committee sets the stage for a comprehensive public review of the project which has been dubbed Garage Mahal by critics.
In November 2003 Mr. Moujabber received a building permit to replace an existing 200-square-foot garage on his Sea View avenue extension property. The proposed cost of the replacement was $22,000, but less than six months later, the project grew into a three-story building with multiple balconies, sliding glass doors and a roof deck.
The new structure sparked heated opposition throughout the neighborhood.
Last month, the Oak Bluffs selectmen unanimously agreed to refer project to the commission as a development of regional impact after a flurry of legal activity which included a ruling a from a Dukes County superior court judge, an appeal by Mr. Moujabber and cross appeals from the town and two neighbors.
Selectmen agreed to a discretionary referral, giving the commission 40 days to decide whether the project should be reviewed as a DRI.
Although the commission will decide on the discretionary referral at their Nov. 1 meeting, the unanimous vote by the land use committee Monday is a strong directive.
A commission staff report on the Moujabber garage notes that the project is located in a highly visible site that serves as the primary Island gateway for the Steamship Authority pier in Oak Bluffs, and is also located in a small but distinct neighborhood.
At a staff meeting last month, spokesmen for Mr. Moujabber said they do not plan to build exactly what was first proposed in 2004. Instead, they said they would like to ascertain what type and size of addition would be acceptable to the Copeland District Review Committee, the Cottage City Historic District Commission and the MVC.
The Copeland District Review Committee, which has special powers vested in it by the MVC, denied a certificate of appropriateness for the garage project in November of 2004. Two weeks later the building inspector ordered the garage demolished.