Developers who want to turn 54 acres off Meetinghouse Way in Edgartown into 34 house lots presented a slightly altered plan to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission Thursday.

A public hearing opened in February. The plan for Meetinghouse Place calls for creating three clusters of buildable lots on the wooded property in the rural perimeters of Edgartown. It is the first market-rate subdivision to come before the commission for review as a development of regional impact (DRI) in many years. Douglas Anderson of Salt Lake City, Utah, and his business partners bought the property in 2017 for $6.6 million.

On Thursday Mr. Anderson attended the continued hearing with Island attorney Sean Murphy and engineer Doug Hoehn. Changes to the plan include reducing the maximum home size from 5,000 square feet and nine bedrooms to 4,800 square feet and five bedrooms, and committing to a net zero nitrogen impact by installing a permeable reactive barrier around the property. Mr. Anderson is also offering to eventually contribute some $1.1 million to affordable housing, beginning with a lump sum payment of $490,000, followed by additional contributions for every lot that is sold and resold.

Subdivision is planned for 54 acres in rural perimeters of Edgartown. — Graham Smith

The subdivision is proposed for an environmentally sensitive area. Three ancient ways cross the property, and some 17 acres are listed as habitat for the rare imperial moth under the state Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. Developers have offered to preserve some rare habitat on the site and contribute funding for off-site research.

The development would connect to town water and sewer, but at the hearing in February, commission water quality planner Sheri Casseau said it still would add significant amounts of nitrogen to the overloaded watershed for the Edgartown Great Pond. After a water expert for the developers disputed her report, the commission decided to hire an independent expert, at the developer’s expense, to review the numbers.

On Thursday commissioners questioned why the lots aren’t more heavily clustered to allow for communal open space, rather than individual conservation restrictions on each lot.

“This ends up with a lot of fragmentation between the open space,” said commissioner Ben Robinson. “Whereas you could accomplish real open space with a large, segregated lot that is protected.”

Commissioner Joan Malkin agreed, saying the commission’s policy was to have open space created first, before the lots, and in a single, discrete portion not owned by the homeowners.

Mr. Anderson replied that according to market research, it would be much more difficult to sell smaller, more heavily clustered lots because buyers want the conservation restrictions in their backyards rather than in a communal lot.

“It’s hard to sell a 15,000-square-foot pad,” Mr. Anderson said. “We found that homeowners take pride in collectively managing their individual conservation easements.”

During public comment there were continued concerns about environmental impacts and appropriateness of the project.

The offer by developers to mitigate the nitrogen load on the watershed by installing a permeable reactive barrier and individual irrigation wells on each property came under scrutiny. Emily Reddington, executive director of the Edgartown Great Pond Foundation, doubted the efficacy of a permeable reactive barrier considering the size and scope of the development.

“I don’t know if you can put [a permeable reactive barrier] on this property and catch the nitrogen you are going to catch,” she said. “I feel like we have a lot more questions than answers . . . that seems like a really lofty goal.”

Luanne Johnson, an Island biologist and executive director of BioDiversity Works who has raised concerns about the presence of the Northern long-eared bat in the area, said the forest would be best preserved with a more clustered development.

“It’s beautiful, prime pitch-pine and oak woodland,” Ms. Johnson said. “I think condensing this development would be a better way to see it.”

And James Athearn, whose family owns the nearby Morning Glory Farm, continued to strongly oppose the project.

“I think it’s obvious that the so-called open space is really just people’s backyards,” Mr. Athearn said. “And the word cluster, it’s about as far from cluster as you can get. It’s basically suburban sprawl.”

Commissioners continued the public hearing to May 16.

In other business, the commission unanimously approved a large campus expansion plan for The Yard, the Chilmark dance colony. The plans will include renovating and winterizing the campus and building a new performance barn.

Before construction can begin, the Yard will have to submit a final stormwater management plan to the commission.

MVC executive director Adam Turner also reported that longtime DRI coordinator Paul Foley had taken a position in Fairhaven as a planning and community development official with the town.

“Paul was here for 15 years and contributed a lot of things,” Mr. Turner said. “You might get people who can do parts of the things he did, but to have one person be as effective in what he was asked to do was really unique and special.”

Mr. Turner said Mr. Foley’s last day was April 19.