The Martha’s Vineyard Commission voted Thursday night to approve eight new second-story rental apartments at Post Office Square in Edgartown.
The vote was 8-2 in favor of the project, under review by the commission as a development of regional impact (DRI).
“I think given the extreme need for additional workforce housing, housing that is affordable to real people that need to live here, that the need for this just outweighs what the problems are,” said commissioner Linda Sibley, who voted in favor of the plan.
Charles Hajjar proposes building eight apartments with a total of 15 bedrooms in second-story attic space of two buildings in Post Office Square. Five apartments are planned for the second floor of the building that houses the Edgartown Post Office, and three are planned for the building that houses a Bank of America vestibule and other retail space.
The plan includes reorganizing and adding 14 additional spaces to the parking lot at Post Office Square.
“It’s reasonably-priced housing for the workforce,” said attorney Sean Murphy, representing Mr. Hajjar before the MVC Thursday night. “There’s a definitive need for these kinds of rentals.”
The apartments — seven two-bedroom apartments and one one-bedroom — will be offered at reasonable rates to members of the workforce and will address a need for affordable rental housing on the Island, Mr. Murphy said. He said subletting will not be allowed and the owner has agreed not to sell or transfer the apartments to a third party for 10 years.
Mr. Hajjar, who attended the meeting, said he was in the business of rentals, and had no intention of turning the apartments into condominiums.
Neighbors and other Edgartown residents expressed concern about impacts on traffic and parking in the already-congested area.
“I think that this project has the potential to have a lot bigger impact on the traffic problems than is being considered,” Gregory Palermo told the commission, noting that traffic from the parking lot often spills into Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.
The applicant offered to limit residents to two cars per unit and to restrict resident parking to the center of the lot.
Commissioners noted benefits and detriments when it comes to traffic and parking.
Brian Smith said the people who live in the apartments will be able to walk to public transportation and places like the grocery store.
The plan has been scaled back since it first came before the commission, going from 10 apartments and 20 bedrooms to eight apartments with 15 bedrooms.
“I think there are some obvious problems, problems we might describe as mixing a little urban concept here with a nearby neighborhood which is a beautifully planned rural development,” Mrs. Sibley said, referring to the nearby Dark Woods subdivision. “And it’s difficult because these two things are so close to each other. I actually think this is the right place.”
The roll call vote follows:
Voting yes were Clarence A. (Trip) Barnes 3rd, John Breckenridge, Christina Brown, Fred Hancock, James Joyce, Linda Sibley, Brian Smith and James Vercruysse.
Voting no were Madeline Fisher and Leonard Jason Jr.