The dream of a dedicated fishing pier in the heart of Oak Bluffs is one step closer for Island fishermen after the Martha’s Vineyard Commission voted unanimously last Thursday to approve the project.

Debate over the state-funded, 317-foot, L-shaped pier has been pointed at times, with surfcasters lamenting the loss of public fishing spots in recent decades and abutters fretting over the proposal’s potential impact.

“I feel as though this project is going to be an asset to the entire Island community,” said commission member John Breckenridge. “We’ve noted in the testimony from local fishermen and many experts that this is where the fish are. We do believe that this is the best location as currently proposed.”

Residents of the nearby North Bluff neighborhood had complained in public hearings that the pier would attract late-night revelers, generate garbage and inhibit residents’ ability to use the North Bluff beach. Mr. Breckenridge briefly addressed those concerns at the meeting.

“We certainly did hear from many of the abutters in the local neighborhood,” he said, “but in my personal opinion the benefits far outweigh the detriments.”

Commission member Holly Stephenson applauded the expansion of fishing access on the Island but questioned the prudence of this proposal in particular.

“At the public hearing everybody talked about how they used to fish on the jetty but now it’s too slippery, or they used to fish on the steamship pier but now they’re not allowed to for security reasons,” she said. “So the state has come up with this idea of spending millions of dollars to build a brand new pier somewhere in between these two places. It seems to me that for a fraction of the cost they could take the jetty and put a walkway and handicapped-access ramp on it, or they could take the pier and find a way to separate a section that you could fish off of.”

She added: “I just think the logic behind this — it’s a colossal waste of money.”

Commission member Christina Brown suggested that Mrs. Stephenson’s concerns were best addressed to the state.

The fish pier project now goes before the Oak Bluffs conservation commission for review at the local level.

Also on Thursday the commission voted 9 to 2 to approve a densely designed, mixed-use, residential-commercial two-building complex that would expand the current Wavelengths Hair Salon building by two floors and add another three-story residential building behind it in what is currently a parking lot. In previous meetings members of the commission and the Edgartown planning board had expressed reservations about the availability of parking and impacts on traffic — concerns that surfaced again on Thursday. While the original plan had 11 parking spaces, zoning required 13. As a solution two commercial parking spaces were placed in parking garages underneath the residential units. In addition town zoning requires 22 per cent of a property to be reserved for open space. Planners overcame the requirement by adding up narrow stretches of lawn that encompassed the parking lot and minor additions of grass elsewhere.

Commission member Linda Sibley applauded the project’s resourceful use of space.

“I think that the applicant had a real challenge here because this is a long and narrow property,” she said. “But I think we agreed at [the land use planning committee meeting] that this is sort of classic smart growth. It’s dense in a dense area, it’s quite consistent with the Edgartown master plan for mixed use in that area and I think the applicants worked really hard to make a challenging property work.”

Mrs. Stephenson, however, was blunt in her criticism of the proposal.

“I think it’s really awful,” she said. “It’s not my idea of smart growth at all. If you create something that’s a mixed residential and commercial, you think of stores with apartments over them, you think maybe of townhouses near parks. This is a commercial space with some residences stuck in the parking lot.” She continued:

“The open space is ridiculous. It’s hard to believe it’s 22 per cent, but it certainly isn’t contiguous. None of these are spaces that are at all usable as a yard. Are the [residents] are going stick their tricycles on a little piece of property in the middle of a parking lot?”

Chilmark commission member Doug Sederholm was similarly wary of the parking situation.

“I don’t know if it’s enough to reject the project but it makes it pretty dicey,” he said.

Ms. Sibley argued that the lack of parking could actually be a boon to the town.

“It’s like choosing to live in the city,” she said, “where you may not have a car at all. So yes, there’s less parking there than you might like, but we did discuss the availability of public transit as being one of the benefits of the project.”

Voting in favor of the proposal were John Breckenridge, Peter Cabana, Leonard Jason Jr., Chris Murphy, Katherine Newman, Camille Rose, Doug Sederholm, Linda Sibley and Christina Brown. Voting against the proposal were Holly Stephenson and Edgartown commissioner James Joyce. Edgartown has threatened to leave the commission in recent weeks for financial reasons.

Ms. Brown briefly addressed those developments in an opening statement.

“The MVC is still important to every town on the Island in protecting the character, the environment and the quality of that intangible way of life that we have here,” she said. “The funding of the MVC is a subject which I’m sure is going to be talked about in the next couple of weeks. We welcome questions about our budgeting process, and about how the money is spent. I’ll just note that the formula for apportionment of the assessments is set by that legislation that created the commission and this year, given that formula, a $500,000 house in any town on the Island pays a little less than $20 in real estate taxes for the commission.”