A proposed subdivision on Pine street in Vineyard Haven has raised concerns from abutters and some planning board members about the density of the project in the town’s residential center.

The property in question, 14 Pine street, is well known in Vineyard Haven as the site of the Luce house, a large yellow post-bellum home built in 1866 by John Luce. The house and property, which is 4.1 acres, remained in the family until last year, when it was sold for $1.3 million.

Paul Adler, a Chilmark resident who has been building homes on the Island for more than 35 years, purchased the property in August and came before the planning board in early February with a proposal for an eight-lot subdivision. The lots would all be behind the Luce house itself, which is currently for sale again; a separate group is in talks to purchase the home for renovation.

The subdivision would include a new road cut between 14 Pine and the neighboring property, 26 Pine.

Tisbury planning board voted against sending project to Martha's Vineyard Commission after developer agreed to lessen project density. — Ivy Ashe

The Tisbury planning board voted last week against referring the subdivision to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission after Mr. Adler said he would work to lessen density in the project. The public hearing for the subdivision was granted an extension and will come before the board again on April 1.

Wednesday’s meeting was the third time Mr. Adler had come before the planning board, each time bringing a revised copy of his plans. Guest houses on the property were eliminated in response to initial density concerns, a vegetation buffer added between the lots and abutters, and a catchbasin added to the proposed road to prevent runoff from going onto neighboring properties. The position of the road was shifted further away from the intersection of Spring and Pine streets.

Still, concerns remained for numerous abutters, who have been attending the planning board hearings from the outset. On Wednesday, 19 people turned out to voice their opinions on the project.

Many spoke of the impact that new construction would have on the neighborhood, which is located near the Tisbury School.

“Lake street and Pine street is just a constant flow of traffic,” said Ed Wessel. “Pine street and Spring, by the school, is a very dangerous intersection. Cars will come around me and cut that lane. It’s a dangerous intersection today, already.”

Others focused on environmental issues. The Pine street property has many oak trees that are more than 100 years old, and in order to accommodate individual septic systems — the subdivision is not in an area where sewering is possible — some trees would have to be removed. Mr. Adler stressed that he would work to keep as many trees as possible on the property.

“It’s just overwhelming that a neighborhood can’t be left alone,” said Susan Jones.

There was some discussion about whether it would be possible for the town to purchase the lots back from Mr. Adler to build a park. Last year, a warrant article proposing that Tisbury buy the lot was withdrawn by selectmen on the town meeting floor.

Mr. Adler reiterated that the property had been on the market for a year before he purchased it.

Colin Young spoke in favor of the project, saying there was a high demand on the Vineyard for housing, and that people should not turn down a plan to add more homes to the Island. The houses are expected to be sold for between $500,000 and $600,000, which Mr. Young said was standard for Vineyard prices.

“I just think it’s kind of unreasonable to be working on one end to increase housing, and then when someone offers to build housing [say] it’s too much,” he said.

Dan Seidman, chair of the planning board, had initially proposed referring the project to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission because of water quality concerns, density, and traffic. The property is close to Lake Tashmoo, which is suffering from high nitrogen levels. A report from the Tisbury board of health said that the property was not in the Tashmoo watershed and that groundwater would go into Vineyard Haven harbor. Mr. Wessel pointed out that pollution would still enter Tashmoo during tidal cycles.

“I want to acknowledge that Paul has done a lot of things that he is not required to do, and we do appreciate that,” Mr. Seidman said. “But I come back to the groundwater and nitrogen . . . even three years ago, it wasn’t really the issue that it is today.”

“I think what he does is good work, and people should know that,” said planning board member Ben Robinson. “Regardless of the number of houses back here, they’re going to be well-built houses.”

But Mr. Robinson echoed the density concerns.

“I think everybody in this room would raise their hands and say less density,” he said. “We can skirt around the issue, but it’s number of lots.”

Mr. Adler said he felt he could continue to work with the board without having to go to the commission. The hearing was continued to April 1.