South Mountain Company’s affordable housing proposal, aimed at reconciling a condition the Martha’s Vineyard Commission placed on a previous company project, went before the commission at a public hearingThursday night. The scenario, the developer said, is one that will become more common on the housing-strapped Island.

The commission is reviewing the project as a development of regional impact (DRI). The plan is to build four houses with a total of 11 bedrooms on a roughly three-acre parcel in West Tisbury. South Mountain, one of the Island’s largest architecture and design firms, plans to buy the land from Island Co-Housing, a neighborhood of homes that shares common facilities.

There are three, two-bedroom homes and one, four-bedroom home proposed. The Island Housing Trust will own the land and lease the homes.

“The houses will be ground leased, like a typical IHT development,” South Mountain chief executive officer John Abrams said. “The buildings will be owned by the people that buy them, but the ground will not.”

South Mountain will use two of the two-bedroom homes as workforce housing for its employees. The other two-bedroom unit will be developed by IHT and sold to a household making up to 80 per cent of area median income, or roughly $98,000 for a four-person household. The four-bedroom home will be sold directly to an Island family with a deed requirement that it be used year-round.

“These are high performance homes really focused on healthy interiors and very low maintenance exteriors for the tenants,” said Matt Coffey, an architect at South Mountain.

In 2019 South Mountain received commission approval for a project to add lumber storage and shop space as well as converting an existing shop to meeting space and offices at its commercial operations in West Tisbury The commission required South Mountain to either pay $150,000 toward an affordable housing project or provide an equivalent amount of pro-bono service as one of its conditions for approving the project. The housing plan currently in front of the commission is meant to satisfy that condition.

Commissioner questions centered on the four-bedroom home. Commissioners Joan Malkin and Doug Sederholm wondered if the house would be sold at market rate since there is no income restriction placed on it.

Deed restricting the property to year-round occupancy devalues a home by about 20 per cent, Mr. Abrams said. While there is no official income restriction, he said the deed restriction will also make the house affordable to an Island family.

“This is kind of new ground; we’re going to be seeing a lot of it, especially if we have a housing bank,” Mr. Abrams said. “Houses will be restricted to year-round occupancy without necessarily being restricted to an income limit.”

The commission closed the public hearing and will begin deliberation at a future meeting.

In other business Thursday, the commission voted to allow the demolition of a historic home located at 17 School street in Oak Bluffs.

Built during the late 1800s in the campground style, the house is listed in MACRIS, the state database for historic homes. Lucy Thomson, the owner of the house, requested to knock it down due to structural and mechanical shortcomings that made the house unsalvageable. The plan for the new house is to replicate parts of the front facade and reuse an interior doorway.

The roll call vote was 10 in favor of allowing the demolition and one opposed. Commissioners Fred Hancock, Trip Barnes, Linda Sibley, Mr. Sederholm, Jim Vercruysse, Ernie Thomas, Jeff Agnoli, Greg Martino, Brian Smith and Ms. Malkin voted in favor. Commissioner Kate Putnam was the only commissioner to vote no.

“It’s going to make a house that is currently unlivable into something that is liveable,” commissioner Fred Hancock said.