The Martha’s Vineyard Commission will decide whether to review a long-planned project to repair the deteriorating North Bluff coastal bank after the Oak Bluffs planning board referred the project to the regional planning and regulatory agency.

“This follows a 4-0 vote by the planning board,” wrote chairman Brian Packish in a letter to the commission. “The scale of the project combined with its location and likely impact more than justify review.”

The planning board issued the referral as a discretionary review. Under the MVC process, commissioners can, by majority vote, decide to review as a development of regional impact, or reject the referral and take no action.

The project has been in the planning and engineering stages for more than two years, but the design has changed several times because of the shifting budget for the project, which is funded almost entirely by state grants.

Mr. Packish contends that design changes will eliminate the sandy shoreline, and restrict public access.

The latest design calls for a sheet piling barrier, similar to the construction around Oak Bluffs harbor, fronted by large boulders to break the force of ocean waves during a storm.

The planning board action took other town officials by surprise. Michael Santoro, chairman of the board of selectmen, said the project was discussed in several meetings over the past three years.

“Brian Packish has been involved in those meetings,” Mr. Santoro said. “I was just surprised it happened at this time. Am I upset that they referred it to the commission? No, that’s their right. I was more upset that they were reaching for reasons. They kept looking for excuses to refer it.”

At the meeting where selectmen awarded the contract for the project to Northern Construction of Weymouth, town administrator Bob Whritenour urged quick action on the project, to make sure the contractor has enough time to finish the construction before next year’s summer season.

“The project has been going on for so long, with the assumption that all of our officials, there was consensus,” Mr. Whritenour said “If it drags on for a couple of months, it could put the schedule in jeopardy. If we get them rolling mid-December, they still have enough time. It’s definitely tight, no question about it.”

The land use planning commission will discuss the North Bluff on Monday, Nov. 23. The commission expects to hold a public hearing on the project sometime in December.