Every two years, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission is required to review its checklist of developments — from historic demolitions to commercial storefronts to large subdivisions — that must come before the commission for review.

In most years the development of regional impact (DRI) checklist changes are relatively minor and pass with little notice.

But this year, with the threat of climate change pressing on one side and an increase in residential development squeezing on the other, a commission subcommittee has decided to beef up the checklist, proposing new criteria that would bring many projects formerly handled at the town level before the MVC for review.

The proposed changes, which the commission has sent to every Island planning board, have sparked confusion and concern among Island builders, and received pushback from town officials who feel the stricter requirements are unnecessary and circumvent their jurisdiction.

For the first time in its history, for example, the commission is proposing a mandatory review for residential buildings that exceed 8,000 square feet, and discretionary review for homes over 4,000 square feet.

“It’s a totally new section,” said Fred Hancock, who serves on the commis

sion’s subcommittee that is redrafting the checklist. “This is the first time we are, in fact, wandering — perhaps incautiously — into the area of residential building.”

“We felt it was appropriate,” he added.

Along with the so-called big house criteria, the commission is also proposing to lower the threshold for subdivisions that would require discretionary review, and a new checklist item would require referral for the creation or alteration of Island roads. The minimum subdivision threshold would drop from 10 to five lots, and from six to three lots in rural areas.

The MVC was established by an act of the state legislature in 1974 and chartered with preserving and protecting the Island’s unique character and ecology and its rural values.

The commission has unique powers to review what are termed developments of regional impact (DRIs). Some reviews are mandatory, while others require concurrence — a vote by commissioners on whether to review the project.

Throughout its history, the commission has focused on the review of increasingly larger projects on the assumption that those projects were of a sufficient size and scale to have a true impact on the overall character of the Vineyard. But the most recent iteration of changes to the DRI checklist indicate that the commission has become progressively more concerned with smaller developments because of their potential to have a cumulative impact on the Island.

Those smaller projects include residential developments, according to Mr. Hancock. He said he and commission staff planner Bill Veno have worked with Edgartown to determine the number of large homes being built and pin down the appropriate size for review. Over the past few years, the commission has also revamped and strengthened its nitrogen, energy and affordable housing policies. Mr. Hancock said the new checklist was framed with those changes in mind.

“What we are trying to do is look at projects of a large size that would have an effect on nitrogen, housing, visuals and energy,” he said. “Large homes will. And would.”

He clarified that houses in the 4,000 to 8,000-square-foot range could avoid review altogether if they fall in line with commission nitrogen loading levels for the watershed, achieve a certain energy star rating on the house, and include covenants requiring electrical heating.

“The intent of our process is to help work on nitrogen and energy from projects,” Mr. Hancock said. “If that is our intent, then getting applicants to do that without having to come to see us, and by the way bogging down our process entirely, seemed sensible.”

But in a letter sent to the commission when the first iteration of changes became publicly available in November, the Martha’s Vineyard Builders’ Association voiced strong opposition to the large house proposal. The association, made up of about 140 member companies and individuals across architecture, engineering and real estate, listed numerous concerns, among them a feeling that the provisions represent an overreach by the commission and that the towns are adequately equipped to handle individual home reviews.

Newell Isbell Shinn, who serves on the MVBA’s board and has attended meetings on the subject, articulated some of the association’s issues with the proposal.

“There are several concerns,” Mr. Isbell Shinn said. “One is that there are already so many regulatory overlays on the Island, that this adds another one without seeming to add much value. Local planning boards seem better equipped to determine what is better in the town and to review those.”

At an Edgartown planning board meeting Tuesday, members of the board bristled at the proposal and said the new regulations are an overreach on the part of the commission. Reade Milne, who attended the meeting and was recently appointed as the town building inspector, said afterward that while this process was new to her, she held a lot of faith in the planning board’s ability to assess the impacts of projects on their respective towns.

“[The commission’s] new proposals feel a little overbearing,” Ms. Milne said. She noted that each Island town is distinct in character, and that the boards in each town are appointed to maintain that character — whereas the commission has oversight of the whole Island.

“This feels like they are starting to get a little bit too deep into the individual towns, rather than being overarching,” Ms. Milne said.

The builders’ association and some town officials are also concerned that the large home item on the checklist would cause an enormous influx of projects to come through the commission’s doors

, ultimately overburdening the body and slowing what can already be an arduous review process. The fear is that another level of review could chill the robust residential homebuilding market on the Island.

There is concern that many may decide to build a 3,999 square-foot home to avoid review. Mr. Hancock said he and the commission could live with that. He noted that a large home bylaw already exists in Chilmark — although the thresholds are different.

Mr. Hancock also said the new proposal will not mean people cannot build large homes — it just would mean they may have to come before the MVC for review. One of the goals of the new checklist is to clearly spell out definitions and different types of review. He said in his 10 years as a commissioner, the MVC has only denied one project — and later accepted that project on a second look.

“Part of the essence of the commission’s DRI process is that there is an element of subjectivity to it,” Mr. Hancock said. “We’re not in the business of saying no to people. What we want to do is work with them so that we can approve their project.”

But he also felt strongly that the new regulations are important considering the growing concerns surrounding wastewater, affordable housing and energy consumption on the Island.

After the draft checklist goes before Island planning boards, the commission will create a final set of changes and hold a public hearing, likely sometime in the spring. After that, the commission will then vote on whether to adopt the changes.

“What I said to Edgartown, and I say to all of the towns, is that your focus rightfully is on your town,” Mr. Hancock said. “But our agreement from our enabling legislation is to look after the Island as a whole. We have to raise our eyes a little higher.”