A developer looking to build a bowling alley at the edge of the Oak Bluffs commercial district will have a hearing before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission this week.
Reid (Sam) Dunn, the architect who developed the Tisbury Marketplace in Vineyard Haven, wants to demolish a set of buildings on Uncas avenue, including a former laundromat, and build the first bowling alley to grace the Island in more than a decade.
The proposed 13,500-square-foot complex would include 10 bowling lanes, a 62-seat bar and restaurant and two affordable housing units. A parking lot, the downtown’s largest with 32 spaces, is planned off Uncas avenue. The business would be open year-round, developers say.
A public hearing opens before the MVC Thursday night at 7 p.m. for review of the plan as a development of regional impact (DRI).
Residents have already mobilized to protest commercial development of the four lots which border a residential neighborhood.
In response to abutter concern during a town planning board hearing last week, Mr. Dunn has already agreed to move the parking closer to the commercial district, and plant honey locust trees to shield the property from residential sight lines.
The Oak Bluffs planning board voted to approve the plan last week, although the action by the board is convoluted because under the DRI rules town processes are paused while the commission reviews the plan. If the commission approves the plan and makes changes to it, the planning board would need to hold a new hearing and vote again, commission officials said. If the commission denies the plan it cannot be approved at the town level.
Nevertheless, planning board chairman John Bradford voted in favor of the plan last week, saying it would give kids a place to spend time during the winter months.
“It’s been kind of a blighted area,” he said. “It will probably revitalize that commercial area.”
Development plans for the long yellow structure, which historically served as a town building and later a laundromat, has come before the commission twice, in 1982 and 1997.
In the first instance, the commission denied a proposal to convert an existing town building into a 7,000-square-foot retail building.
In denying the plan, the commission cited a negative impact on traffic in a predominantly residential neighborhood.
“The same debate is going on now,” said Paul Foley, DRI coordinator at the MVC.
In 1997, the commission again denied a development project to convert the building into a cluster of 16 studio apartments.
In that decision, the commission said the density of the proposed units exceeded town zoning bylaws, and questioned the affordability of the housing planned by the applicant, Cottage City Studios.
A traffic impact analysis for Mr. Dunn’s project will be available Tuesday afternoon, as well as updated wastewater treatment calculations.
The hearing Thursday will be held at the commission office in the Olde Stone Building on New York avenue.