Plans to double the size of the Vineyard Haven Stop & Shop, which would include the reconfiguration of a town parking lot, the elimination of a town comfort station and the relocation of a historic house, will come before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission Thursday.
A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Thursday evening at the Tisbury Senior Center.
The supermarket on Water street — located across the street from the main ferry terminal for the Island — is slated for a major expansion and renovation that would consolidate three properties into a 23,800 square-foot, two-story building with a parking garage.
A previous public hearing before the commission was postponed because of a revision of project plans; the original idea was for a 28,093-square-foot structure with a third story for offices. The new plans are slightly smaller and eliminate the third story.
The project already has been discussed in public hearings before the Tisbury selectmen, during which residents and town representatives raised concerns about the impact on parking, town aesthetics and affordable housing.
According to a Martha’s Vineyard staff report, the plan is to consolidate the current store, the former Midnight Farm store location and a building formerly occupied by the Golden Dragon restaurant into one larger supermarket. A 43-space parking garage would be at street level on Water street, with the supermarket one level above.
The staff report notes that the proposed supermarket is 2.5 times as large as the existing store.
The proposal calls for the reconfiguration of the town parking lot next to the Stop & Shop. Currently, the Norton Lane extension goes straight between Main street and Water street. With the new plan, traffic would be redirected through the parking lot to an exit on the far side of the lot.
Additionally, the proposal calls for the elimination of a town comfort station so Stop & Shop trucks can access the store. The comfort station, now located adjacent to the store, provides restroom facilities for town visitors and shoppers. Eliminating the station would save the town about $30,000 a year, the staff report said, but could also pose an inconvenience. Stop & Shop is required to provide restrooms, but those are now located as far from Main Street as possible; the report suggests that they should be moved within the Stop & Shop building to be more accessible to the general public.
“Is it appropriate that public property be used to accommodate a private company’s expansion or can all needed elements be incorporated on private land?” the commission staff report notes.
The number of parking spots in the town parking lot would go from 65 to 57, the report said. There would be 42 new parking spots in the parking garage, which would be exclusively Stop & Shop parking.
The report notes concern that additional Stop & Shop shoppers might use the town lot before they use the parking garage, reducing available parking space for other town visitors and shoppers.
“The possibility of some form of reciprocity was raised, whereby non-Stop & Shop visitors would be allowed to use the new garage in exchange for the Stop & Shop customers using the town lot,” the report said. “Stop & Shop had indicated that their parking will be for their customer parking exclusively, with periodic store personnel monitoring and towing of other vehicles as necessary.”
Another wrinkle emerged surrounding the house Stop & Shop bought at 15 Cromwell Lane with the intent to demolish it to allow for expansion. A historic analysis showed that the house, which was built for Caleb Prouty between 1810 and 1838, is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the commission report said. “It stands as an excellent local example of a moderately high-style Greek Revival style residence in Tisbury,” according to Public Archeology Lab.
According to a letter to the commission from attorney Geoghan Coogan, who is representing Stop & Shop, the store’s proposal must use the area where the house is located. Stop & Shop is investigating the possibility of relocating the house, Mr. Coogan wrote, though there are associated challenges.
“Ultimately the house must be removed from the site for this project to be accomplished and it is the intention of the applicant to find a suitable place for the house to be relocated too,” he said.
The commission report further notes that the proposal would eliminate about 12,000 square feet of open space on the property, with no proposed landscaping except for six planters on Water Street.
With the store located across from the Steamship Authority terminal and near the busy Five Corners intersection, the commission report points to traffic as a critical issue that could impact Beach street and State road as well as access to the ferry terminal.
Mr. Coogan’s letter outlined benefits from the project, noting that the proposal will create an estimated 50 additional jobs, as well as 150 temporary jobs during construction.
“The current grocery store is unable to provide the type of service and quality that is needed to consider this store an “anchor business,” Mr. Coogan wrote, adding that the structure is old and too small.
“The proposed new structure will immediately enhance the visual effect of any person coming to or leaving from the Island of Martha’s Vineyard,” he continued. “This will no longer be a site people rush to get past on their way onto the Island, but will instead be visually pleasing and an area where more people stop and begin their experience on Martha’s Vineyard and in particular the town of Tisbury.” He said the project could lead to further development.
The proposed construction process calls for the store to be closed from Oct. 1, 2013 to Memorial Day 2014, with Norton street closed or detoured to allow staging for construction work.