A 51-acre residential subdivision in the Southern Woodlands in Oak Bluffs will not require formal review by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, but conditions for the project, including several to protect water quality in the Lagoon Pond, are still being worked out.

A divided commission voted 7-5 last Thursday not to review the plan as a development of regional impact (DRI), quietly closing another chapter in the long story of development plans for the property situated between Barnes and County Roads.

Former owner Corey Kupersmith battled the commission for years over his plans to develop the property as a luxury 18-hole golf course on what was the largest tract of undeveloped forest land in Oak Bluffs at the time. The MVC denied the project three times, with the last vote in 2004.

Today 190 acres of the former Kupersmith property is owned by the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank which has plans to revive a historic camp ground there. The remaining land was approved for a 26-lot residential subdivision and partially improved but never built, eventually falling into bank ownership.

The project resurfaced last year when a Boston investment group led by an Oak Bluffs summer visitor bought the property at a foreclosure auction for $5.15 million. A condition of the sale was for the seller, NLP financing, to obtain the necessary approvals to revive the subdivision whose permits had expired. But reviving the project has been somewhat fraught, in part since town policies and bylaws have changed over the years.

Boston businessman and seasonal visitor Paul Adamson, at center, leads a group that bought the property at foreclosure auction early last summer. — Mark Lovewell

Over the last few months, the Oak Bluffs planning board and other town officials have worked with NLP to update the list of conditions. New conditions include a $700,000 contribution to affordable housing in Oak Bluffs, and nitrogen-mitigation efforts to protect water quality in Lagoon Pond.

The question before the commission was whether to require a new DRI process. Planning board chairman Brian Packish, who attended the meeting Thursday, said he believed the project had gone through ample public review and would have clear benefits for the town.

“We feel pretty good about the way the process worked,” he said.

Commissioner Kathy Newman said she felt the process was well-done and transparent. But others had a different view.

“There is a lot of material to cover here,” commissioner Fred Hancock said of the modified conditions. “I think it would be informative to the public to find out what is being proposed for this property.”

Oak Bluffs selectman Gail Barmakian also favored a new review, which would include a public hearing, as a way to further address the nitrogen issue, which was less of a concern in 2004. Most of the 26 lots drain to Lagoon Pond, which is among the most impaired ponds on the Vineyard.

The new plan is virtually the same as before, according to the conditions, although it no longer includes an equestrian center and worker housing. It also includes some minor lot line adjustments.

NLP general counsel Michelle Manners said in a Jan. 7 letter to the MVC that the project would bring in almost $500,000 in unpaid back taxes to the town, in addition to the affordable housing contribution and revenue for the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, which owns the adjacent Southern Woodlands Reservation.

Original conditions include several land-use restrictions, including the preservation of special ways. The developer may also relocate up to 40 per cent of the length of special ways “to make them more accommodating to the residents of the subdivision,” with planning board approval. New conditions allow portions of two special ways to be re-routed, with planning board approval, to improve trail use in the subdivision.

To help protect water quality, the new owners offered to cap the number of bedrooms at 156, rather than the 190 that are allowed. Each lot must also use a denitrifying septic system or other technology as it becomes available, and stay within an annual limit if 19 milligrams of nitrogen per liter.

Another new condition requires the developer to form a homeowners association prior to the sale of any lots. The association covenants would require all areas that are thinned or cleared to be revegetated with native plants.

Some of the original conditions no longer applied and were struck from the list. Commissioners sought further clarification on some of those items, including an offer to formalize certain documents mentioned in 2004. “I’m not saying it’s not a better plan,” Mr. Hancock said. “All I’m saying is the Ts need to be crossed.”

Geoghan Coogan, an attorney for the new owners, said he was amenable to keeping some of the original conditions in place to suit the commission.

The commission voted 7-5 not to require a new DRI hearing. Commissioners Joan Malkin, Doug Sederholm, Clarence A. (Trip) Barnes 3rd, Lenny Jason Jr., James Joyce, Ernie Thomas and Kathy Newman voted against a new DRI hearing; Abe Seiman, Linda Sibley, Christina Brown and Fred Hancock voted in favor of the hearing.

Mr. Joyce then moved to approve the conditions as presented, with one change related to timing of the homeowners association and some of the other conditions remaining. The motion failed 9-3.

Mr. Coogan will work with commission executive director Adam Turner to clarify the conditions, which the commission plans to revisit on Jan. 21.