The lack of any substantive local zoning in Tisbury’s commercial district made dealing with a proposal like Stop & Shop’s expansion and remodeling difficult at best for the town.
As a result of our zoning deficiencies in the commercial district, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission is left as virtually the only permitting board able to approve and condition or disapprove large projects in that area. At one point in the Stop & Shop proposal the town was basically being left out of the mitigation discussions between the applicant and the MVC. This is not a tenable position for the town to be in.
The answer to this conundrum is to develop a zoning bylaw that allows for a special permitting process through the planning board. It could be as simple as stating a new project, or expansion of an existing facility over, say 2,000 square feet, needs a special permit from the planning board. The intent would not be to burden smaller construction projects, but to give the town its own ability to permit and mitigate the larger ones in the commercial district. It would also give the town the ability to give the MVC clearer guidance as to the town’s wishes before they act on a project. The selectmen have recently asked the planning board to look into developing some new zoning parameters for the commercial district.
The writer is a Tisbury selectman.