Changes in parking, traffic, land use and more led the Martha’s Vineyard Commission land use planning subcommittee meeting (LUPC) to recommend that a proposal to use a plot of open space as a wedding venue in West Tisbury go to a full commission public hearing, though a potential holdup with town approval may sideline the project altogether.

The plan is to rent out the 9.6-acre property at 371 Edgartown-West Tisbury Road for wedding receptions and ceremonies up to 18 times per year, from late spring through early fall. The applicant is David Reed, a Georgia attorney who was not in attendance at the LUPC meeting on August 22 when the subcommittee recommended a public hearing.

There is a historic house on the property that will be unaltered and used as a place for wedding parties to get ready for their ceremony. Listed in MACRIS, the state’s database for historic structures, the home was originally built in 1780 and was owned by the Manter family for many years.

If the project is approved, this field will feature a roughly 18,000-square-foot parking area and roughly 10,000-square-foot tent. — Mark Alan Lovewell

The weddings are expected to include between 150 and 200 people and events would take place in a field behind the house. The site plan includes a roughly 18,000-square-foot parking area and roughly 10,000-square-foot tent.

The property includes a 5.5-acre field that is currently used for haying by the Athearn family. It also includes an area designated as priority habitat by the Massachusetts Wildlife National Heritage & Endangered Species Program, although the project will not disturb that area.

In documents filed with the commission, Mr. Reed said it would initially cost between $5,000 and $10,000 to rent out the property. Mr. Reed said he plans to give a 50 per cent discount to year-round Island residents and people who grew up on the Island.

“My wife and I got married on Martha’s Vineyard 33 years ago. Sadly we could not afford our own wedding now,” Mr. Reed wrote in a letter to the commission. “We believe that utilizing the property in the manner proposed could … provide a potentially more affordable wedding venue option on the Island.”

The project requires a special permit from the West Tisbury zoning board of appeals to allow seasonal commercial use in a rural district. The ZBA has indicated that the project may not comply with town zoning bylaws, which would mean the board could not issue the special permit.

If the town does approve the project, the MVC could choose to hold the LUPC-recommended public hearing. After the public hearing, LUPC would be tasked with analyzing the public hearing information and making a recommendation to the full commission.

“I’m not going to waste our time until we know whether or not the town is going to pull it,” commissioner Doug Sederholm said. “We’re talking about next summer anyway.”

There was discussion among commissioners about whether the MVC needs to review the project at all. Commission review is unnecessary, commissioner Fred Hancock said, because there will be nothing built at the site and the town’s special permit review is sufficient to cover the concerns raised by the project.

“It doesn’t really seem to be a commission issue,” Mr. Hancock said. “He’s not asking to build anything; he’s not asking for anything permanent on the property.”

There does not need to be a structure built to make it the commission’s concern, Mr. Sederholm said. Changing the use of the land from agricultural and residential to commercial is significant enough to require review by the commission, which looks at developments of regional impact.

“I don’t think it requires a structure. It’s a change of use and it’s a land use issue,” Mr. Sederholm said. “There are a number of other triggers, like the parking, like the 83 cars and the 150 people. It clearly has a regional impact with regard to traffic.”

In the end, five members of the LUPC voted to recommend a public hearing, one voted against and another abstained. The full commission will take up the recommendation and decide whether the project warrants a public hearing at a later date.

“It is a clear majority. We will recommend [a public hearing],” Mr. Sederholm said.