Editors, Vineyard Gazette;

On Sept. 23, 2022, the Vineyard Gazette reported on deliberations at a Tisbury planning board meeting for a special permit for the Island Housing Trust to construct a duplex on the corner of Leland avenue and Franklin street. In the article a board member was quoted as saying: “I am concerned about people who might be occupying these spaces moving into a neighborhood with that kind of animosity.”

This statement does not reflect the views of the Leland avenue residents. We find no fault in the accuracy of the reporting but without the full record of the hearing, one would not know that this comment was not in any way connected to the position the neighbors put forth and was only voiced as a hypothetical scenario by a board member.

Throughout the public process the neighborhood residents testified that they did not object to the lot being used for an affordable housing development and many spoke in support of the overall efforts to increase the housing options in our community. What concerned them was the safety of the driveway location.

Placement of the driveway — on Leland avenue or on Franklin street — was the overarching topic of discussion. Whereas many of the residents in the area felt the safer location would be on Franklin street, the town’s department of public works thought it would be better to place it on Leland avenue. Ultimately, the planning board did approve the project and placed the driveway on Franklin street.

The planning board holds special permit hearings such as this to allow the public and abutters to participate in the process. Public participation is critical to sound decision making. It is unfortunate whenever members of the public feel that what is reported in the press mischaracterizes their views. In such cases, the board has an obligation to protect both the public’s ability and willingness to participate, and to ensure participants feel welcome to do so.

In this regard, the board would like to apologize for the mischaracterization of the Leland avenue residents’ views and we hope this letter sets the record straight.

The Tisbury Planning Board