The scale of a project to develop 40 units of affordable housing in Edgartown led the land use planning subcommittee (LUPC) of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to recommend a public hearing for the plan in front of the full commission.

“We could not possibly have enough affordable housing on this Island, so we are sensitive to the importance of this project,” commissioner Doug Sederholm said.

Known as Meshacket Commons, the project would result in 36 rental units and four ownership units on 8.5 acres of town-owned land at 38 Meshacket road. In November the town awarded a bid for the project to the Island Housing Trust and Affirmative Investments, a Boston-based real estate and development company that focuses on affordable housing. Under its agreement, the town will lease just under seven acres of the land to the two groups and retain ownership of the rest.

The housing units will be split between eight buildings, ranging from duplexes to apartment-like buildings known as manor houses, and have a total of 76 bedrooms. The rental units will be restricted to households making between 30 and 110 per cent of area median income, which is roughly between $30,000 and $108,000 for a family of four. The ownership units will be for households earning between 90 and 120 per cent of AMI, or a little over $100,000 and $117,000 for a family of four.

“This has been a project that’s been under consideration for many years and it’s gone through a series of various plans and configurations,” Edgartown affordable housing committee chair Mark Hess said. “We’re very happy with the proposal as written and what the professionals have come up with in terms of a plan.”

There will also be outdoor areas, walking paths and a community building, which will have a management office, a maintenance area and a multipurpose space. Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2023 and be completed by 2025.

Development will be spread across roughly four acres of the land, which is currently forested. IHT and Affirmative Investments have proposed permanently protecting the land that will not be developed. Most of the site is designated as priority habitat by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program. The state has indicated that habitat protection measures will need to be included in future plan approvals.

The project lies within the Edgartown Great Pond watershed and will be connected to the town sewer. The Edgartown wastewater department has approved 8,800 gallons of wastewater flow per day, but the developers are still required to come up with a nitrogen mitigation plan to protect the pond. The mitigation plan has not yet been submitted to the commission.

Commissioners asked a detailed set of questions centered around the affordability restrictions and the design. Many of the questions went unanswered since LUPC meetings are a chance for applicants to hear commissioner concerns and prepare to address them in a public hearing.

“What you need to do between now and then is work on the few items that you’ve heard about, especially the nitrogen. If there’s a nitrogen issue, we need a concrete plan for mitigation,” Mr. Sederholm said.

Commissioners then voted to recommend a public hearing by a vote of six yes, zero no and one abstention. The full commission will make its own decision as to whether the project requires a public hearing at a later date.

“Anything that we say about preferring that this go to a public hearing does not speak at all to how we feel about the proposed project except that it is of a size that we might reasonably think does need to go to a public hearing,” commissioner Fred Hancock said.