The Martha’s Vineyard Commission last Thursday approved Donald Muckerheide’s plan to build a 12-unit condominium complex on Dukes County avenue in Oak Bluffs. The commission voted 8-1 to approve the project as a development of regional impact (DRI), with Andrew Woodruff casting the lone dissenting vote.
Throughout the nearly year-long application process, Mr. Muckerheide has clashed with the commission over aspects of his project and other topics. He has questioned the commission’s power to review DRIs and criticized the planning agency on more than one front, accusing the commission of delaying the review of his application.
At a meeting last month, Mr. Muckerheide withdrew his latest sketch midway through the hearing and later left the meeting.
Later during that same meeting, the commission made the unusual move of referring the project back to its land use subcommittee for a second review. Since then, Mr. Muckerheide abandoned plans for a twin-gable roof that the commission did not like, returning to his original plan with a mansard roof.
Contacted by telephone this week, after the vote, Mr. Muckerheide moderated his tone somewhat.
“I think they saw what I was trying to do . . . in the end, it seemed they wanted to work with me,” he said, adding: “But it did take a lot of time and effort just to go back to my original version.”
Mr. Muckerheide initially proposed a nine-unit, three-story housing project in the business-zoned district on Dukes County avenue.
The property has been used since 1978 for various businesses, including a farm, an automobile business and antique shop.
Mr. Muckerheide later changed his proposal to a 12-unit condominium complex; each of the 784-square foot units will sell for around $350,000 and be marketed to year-round residents.
At the beginning of deliberations last Thursday, commissioner John Breckenridge praised Mr. Muckerheide for working with the commission, noting the applicant hired an architect to help him complete the plans.
“We’ve been down a long road. And I want to thank you for bringing in a design professional . . . in my mind this [design] is more in keeping with the design and massing of the neighborhood. And in a spirit of staying positive, I make a motion to approve,” Mr. Breckenridge said.
Before voting, the commission reviewed a list of conditions submitted by Mr. Muckerheide, which imposed maximum sale prices on units and limitations on weekly rentals. One called for Mr. Muckerheide to contribute $106,060 to the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority. Other conditions require downward shielded lighting and limit the height of the buildings.
Commission comment was mostly positive. Commissioner Linda Sibley said the building may be out of character with the neighborhood, but not with the town, while commissioner James Athearn said he liked that it was close to downtown and had parking.
Douglas Sederholm was one of the few critics, questioning whether the project really provided affordable housing.
“Clearly this is not adding anything to the supply of low-income housing,” Mr. Sederholm said. “These are 784-square-foot, two-bedroom apartments; you aren’t fooling yourself by thinking this is anything less than market-rate condominiums . . . frankly, if I lived here year-round and had that type of money, I would be looking for something that offered more bang for the buck,” he said.
Mr. Muckerheide said he needs to raise money before he begins construction.