A planned Mexican restaurant at the former Stone Bank property in Vineyard Haven has won approval from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and now heads to the Tisbury planning board for a 6 p.m. public hearing Wednesday.

The commission was split 7-3 in its Feb. 9 decision, with Ben Robinson, Clarence "Trip" Barnes, Ernest Thomas, Brian Smith, Fred Hancock and chair Joan Malkin voting in favor of allowing a 70-seat outdoor, seasonal eatery at the one-acre site where Santander Bank operated until 2017.

The vote allows developer Sam Dunn to modify his original MVC approval. The commission initially gave its blessing in 2021 for plans to create residential and office condominiums on the property where phonograph magnate William Barry Owen built his fieldstone bank in 1905.

Mr. Dunn needed to come back before the commission for the restaurant proposal.  

The MVC’s approval followed a protracted public hearing that began in December and saw several continuances as commissioners and abutters probed Mr. Dunn’s plans for the restaurant, which is to be owned and operated by seasonal Island resident and Boston restaurateur Patrick Lyons.

Key points of concern for the commission included wastewater, traffic and protecting the public’s longtime right to walk through the property from Main street to Union street.

When Mr. Dunn’s original project was approved a year and a half ago, the Tisbury wastewater plant did not have the capacity for an additional restaurant at the site. But over the past year, the town water department has sealed leaks and cracked down on illicit sewer connections, freeing up more than enough flow to accommodate the restaurant, department head Jared Meader testified in December.

With no customer parking for the restaurant, commissioners agreed that it likely would worsen downtown traffic. But those voting in its favor said the economic benefit of the business outweighs potential traffic impacts.

“A bustling downtown is a benefit to everybody,” Mr. Robinson said.

He also noted that the public right of way remains in Mr. Dunn’s plans for the site.

“We’ve preserved the historic walking pattern through here,” Mr. Robinson said.

The MVC imposed some conditions on the approval, including a prohibition against propane heaters, but left matters of noise, lighting, business hours and alcohol service to Tisbury officials.

“The MVC doesn’t need to be the fun police,” Mr. Smith said. “Let’s leave it up to the towns.”

Also on Feb. 9, the commission closed its hearing on Big Sky Tents’ application to construct a 27,000-square-foot building at the airport business park and reopened a public hearing on the proposed Stillpoint Meadows humanities education center in West Tisbury.

The Stillpoint hearing will continue March 9, the commission’s next meeting date.