The Martha’s Vineyard Commission had its first formal look at plans for a new commercial automotive garage in Vineyard Haven and gave final signoff on demolition of an old house in downtown Edgartown last week.

Joe DeBettencourt, owner of Buddy’s Auto and Truck Repair Inc. in Oak Bluffs, wants to build a 5,100-square-foot, four-bay automotive garage on a half-acre lot off High Point Lane in Vineyard Haven.

The plan is under review by the commission as a development of regional impact (DRI) because it is a commercial building more than 3,000 square feet in size. A public hearing opened Thursday night.

Landscaping, intensity of use, parking and wastewater discharge were all areas of concern. The project would use 100 per cent of the 0.57-acre property, which slopes from east to west, and would include retaining walls on all four sides. The plan calls for 20 outdoor parking spaces.

The Tisbury selectmen are backing the project, which would involve lowering the grade on the edge of an abutting town property to allow for a shorter retaining wall on that side.

Regrading the hillside would mean removing nearly all the trees, including several on the edge of the property that houses the town hall annex buildings. Tree warden Paul Wohler has said that the town property has no shade trees worth saving.

But on Thursday commissioners pressed for additional landscaping to mitigate the overall loss of trees. They also asked to see a proposed memorandum of understanding related to Mr. DeBettencourt’s plans to replace the town-owned trees with new vegetation and add a fence along the top of the retaining wall.

“It troubles me at this time that the property will be so completely developed,” said Joan Malkin, who also questioned the need for so many parking spots. Commissioner Fred Hancock said the space between a retaining wall on the downhill side and the neighboring property could be enough for additional plantings.

That retaining wall would border a property owned by Chris Dias, who plans to build a 3,600-square-foot metal building for lumber storage, offices and an apartment. The MVC approved Mr. Dias’s proposal on Oct. 1.

Both the Dias and DeBettencourt parcels were part of a four-lot division that the MVC approved in 2012. Mr. DeBettencourt’s portion includes two of the lots.

“Commercial and industrial land is in short supply and there is no shortage of demand,” said John Breckenridge, who chaired the public hearing on Thursday in place of Linda Sibley, who recused herself as an abutting business owner. Commissioner Clarence A. (Trip) Barnes 3rd also recused himself as an abutter.

Responding to the landscaping concerns, Mr. DeBettencourt said there was no way to regrade the hillside without destroying the trees, and that he would need all of the proposed parking spots.

“I’m full right up to the gate,” he said of his current Worcester avenue business in Oak Bluffs, which specializes in large trucks. He added that many of his customers are drop-ins, which can’t be predicted, and that various contracts keep him busy year-round. “Keeping those spots is a huge deal for me,” he said.

Peter Goodale of Goodale Construction Company said he favored the proposed number of parking spots, which would allow him to more easily maneuver heavy machinery around the lot.

Mr. Barnes also spoke in favor of the project. “The town could sure use another garage,” he said, adding that developments sometimes take time to blend in with their surroundings. “Trellises and ivy can really dress up a building,” he said.

The commission considered the effect of more nitrogen flowing into Lake Tashmoo to the north, a saltwater pond which is already impaired. Water resources planner Sheri Caseau is proposing that Mr. DeBettencourt be allowed to install a denitrifying septic system, and that a fee would apply if wastewater from the garage exceeds 28,000 gallons per year (about 3.14 kilograms of nitrogen after treatment). The allowable load for developments of that size in the watershed is 3.25 kilograms per year.

Commissioners also asked for additional site plans and pictures to help them visualize the changes. The hearing was continued to Nov. 5.

In other business, the commission approved a written decision to allow the demolition of the house at 2 Beach street in Edgartown, which stands just outside the boundaries of the Edgartown historic district but lies within a historic area as defined by the commission’s 2009 Island Plan.

Commissioners had struggled to determine the historic value of the old house, which is thought to have been cobbled together from a large ice house farther inland. But on Oct. 1 they decided the proposal would have only a “modest overall effect upon other persons and property,” and would conform to MVC land use objectives, according to the written decision.

The commission had unanimously approved the proposal, with a condition that the applicant “offer the existing building in good faith to someone who wants to move it to another site.”

Two other written decisions were approved: one for the proposal by Mr. Dias, and another for a proposal to expand and enclose a Cape Cod Express loading dock at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Business Park. John Folino, the builder for that project, is also the prospective builder for the High Point Lane garage.