Everyone who cares about the Vineyard should memorize this central tenet of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s mission statement: “The MVC’s mission is to help carefully manage growth so that the Vineyard’s unique environment, character, social fabric, and sustainable economy are maintained as development takes place.”
In furtherance of this core mission, the MVC’s Island Plan directs planners and decision makers to “reinforce compact, mixed-use, walkable town and village centers” and to “ensure that new building is compatible in its scale, siting, and design with its surroundings.”
These guidelines express a consensus that is the product of a decades-long commitment of time, energy, and treasure on the part of year-round and seasonal Islanders to ensure that the Vineyard continues to be “different” from the mainland, on its own terms.
The Stop & Shop development of regional impact (DRI) application before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, for a two-story 48,987-square-foot superstore with a parking garage, flies in the face of both the spirit and the specifics of the MVC’s mission in the following ways:
• Inappropriate scale and character. The “big box” store and parking garage that Stop & Shop wishes to build — typical of an off-Island shopping mall in Anywhere, USA — will dominate visitors’ and Islanders’ first view of Martha’s Vineyard from the ferry. Such a building will adversely change the unique historical and visual character of the village of Vineyard Haven.
• Traffic impacts. All studies agree that traffic will be increased by five to 15 per cent, further burdening an already highly congested area. The commission’s traffic consultant has stated that the five roads that meet at Five Corners will all be at level-of-service F — total failure. This may add travel time to and from work in all trades. Large trailer trucks backing into the trailer bays can be expected to disrupt access to Water street and the ferry via Norton Lane. Serious disruptions to both the SSA’s and the VTA’s operations and schedules are also predicted.
• Economic impacts. The superstore will compromise the economic sustainability of locally owned businesses, both during the construction phase and after. Construction will impede normal operations of many businesses Islandwide. community.
• Environmental and quality-of-life impacts. Reduction of air quality from increased congestion and venting of the parking garage. Reduction of ground and surface water quality from runoff in the parking garage. Noise pollution from parking garage vents. Major disruptions during construction. Islands of open space and greenery will be eliminated. Furthermore, the two-story building has no setbacks. It encroaches on the municipal parking lot and Cromwell Lane, and cuts off their sun. • Sets dangerous precedent. The scale of this project will raise the benchmark for an acceptable scale and style of development in the immediate environs of the project in the Tisbury gateway area, and Islandwide. This proposal qualifies for rejection under the mission statement and enabling legislation of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. Though we are in favor of an appropriate renovation of the Stop & Shop market, we ask the members of the MVC to adhere to the clear guidelines in their enabling legislation and vote to deny Stop & Shop’s current DRI application. To sign a petition, go to (http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/marthas-vineyard-commission?source=c.em....)
This letter includes 50 other signatories from six towns.