The Martha’s Vineyard Commission closed its hearings on Safe Harbor Marinas’ proposed expansion on Lagoon Pond and the town of Oak Bluffs’ redesigned North Bluff streetscape, which includes a roundabout and new parking configurations.

Safe Harbors’ Vineyard Haven manager Chris Scott, in his company’s fourth appearance before the commission since the hearing opened earlier this year, had answers for critics who have raised environmental concerns about the marina’s plans. The proposal includes the demolition of four buildings and the construction of two new boat racks, as well as the construction of a boardwalk along the marina's bulkhead.  

By increasing its rack space for dry-storing boats, Mr. Scott said the marina will take vessels out of the water that would otherwise be subject to a litany of potential problems, from environmental pollution to crime.

“They can’t sink, if they’re in the racks. They can’t pose a threat to property if they’re in the racks. They can’t discharge waste when they’re in the racks. They can’t discharge fluids while sitting in the racks,” he said.

“They’re checked for leaks at each launch and haul,” Mr. Scott said. A boat that’s leaking won’t go into the water, he added, and dry-stored boats don’t need bottom paint that can contribute to environmental problems.

The racks ward off other woes as well, Mr. Scott went on.

“They don’t allow liveaboards or overnighting or loitering on your boat in the marina. All of that greatly reduces actual and any potential impact they would have in the environment,” he said.

Commissioners closed the Safe Harbors hearing, with the written record remaining open until 5 p.m. Nov. 17.

In other business, commissioners closed their public hearing on North Bluff streetscape changes following a last-minute request from a local cab owner and another Islander’s plea for a different parking arrangement.

Saying he spoke on behalf of the town’s six licensed taxi companies, licensee Peter Bradford argued that the cab stand in the town’s proposed design is only large enough for four vans and awkwardly sited for loading the 15-passenger vehicles over the time it takes to fill up and depart.

Roundabout plans. — MVC

Oak Bluffs commissioner Brian Smith backed Mr. Bradford’s suggestion to add more room for cabs, which project designer Tim Wong agreed can be done.

Benjamin Hall, who has testified in earlier North Bluff sessions, criticized the new parking plan, beginning with the number of 15-minute parking spaces.

“The [passenger ferry] boats come every hour and a half,” Mr. Hall said, arguing that the spaces will go to waste except at when ferries arrive and depart.

“What are you going to do in 15 minutes?” asked Mr. Hall.

“I just think this thing needs to be totally reworked,” he told the commission.

With the lengthy meeting running until 10:30 p.m., the commission ran out of time to complete its agenda and had to postpone a decision on the proposed Meshacket Commons affordable housing development in Edgartown .

The commission was able to review a list of offers from the Edgartown project’s applicants, Island Housing Trust and Affirmative Investments, as well as a set of conditions the MVC would require if Meshacket Commons is approved.

Leasing about seven acres of town-owned land, Meshacket Commons would create 78 bedrooms of affordable housing in 40 rental apartments, including 26 with two bedrooms, eight with one bedroom and six with three bedrooms, according to the proposal. Offers discussed Thursday included working with the town to expand bike and walking paths along Meshacket road, free wifi in a community building and protecting eight acres of town-owned land for nitrogen mitigation.

If the eight acres can’t be found, a spokesman, Craig Nicholson, said the second choice for nitrogen mitigation would be to convert two homes in Edgartown from septic systems to town sewer.

Deliberation, when the commission evaluates the project’s potential positive and negative impacts on the Island before making a formal decision, is scheduled for Nov. 10.