Navigator Homes of Martha’s Vineyard, a proposed skilled nursing complex with workforce housing that would be the first of its kind on the Island, took another step forward this week with the unanimous approval of the Edgartown planning board Tuesday night.

The development still must receive approvals from the town wastewater commission and board of health, as well as a license from the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Facility Licensure and Certification.

The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital purchased 28 wooded acres at 490 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road nearly two years ago for the project, which includes 70 skilled nursing beds, 48 apartments for Navigator Homes and hospital employees and 16 acres of open space.

Following the elder care model known as Green House homes, Navigator Homes is designed with five residences housing no more than 14 patients in each.

Each skilled nursing bedroom will be private with its own bathroom. Residents share a central kitchen, living room and dining room as well as a central landscaped area with footpaths connecting the five Green House residences.

Parking and vehicle access forms a ring around the outside of the complex, with three apartment buildings nearby.

The 48 apartments will be limited to employees of Navigator Homes and the hospital, with rents tied to tenants’ incomes, hospital board president Edward Olivier told the Edgartown planning board during its final public hearing on the application Tuesday night.

Throughout the approval process, which began at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission last spring, abutters of the undeveloped property have decried the size and scope of the project, citing fears of heavy traffic, population density, increased noise and visual intrusion.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Mr. Olivier and Navigator Homes of Martha’s Vineyard president David McDonough responded to the concerns, noting that the Martha’s Vineyard Commission had a traffic study peer-reviewed to confirm that additional vehicle trips to and from the development would not significantly worsen traffic on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.

With 5.15 bedrooms per acre, the Navigator Homes property will be less densely-settled than the nearby Teaberry Lane neighborhood, which has 5.51 bedrooms per acre, Mr. McDonough said.
“One could argue this is a better use of land,” he said.

The planning board approval includes conditions requiring Navigator Homes to plant and maintain screening trees along the abutters’ property lines and to refrain from testing all of its five diesel generators at once, to reduce the noise disturbance.

Another condition requires a site visit for neighbors before construction begins.

The development’s nitrogen footprint has been a stumbling block from the outset, when the Edgartown wastewater commission turned aside a request to connect to the sewer system.

Conditions of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission approval require Navigator Homes to install a high-efficiency septic system and, to offset excess nitrogen, pay for sewer connections at 14 homes in the Sengekontacket Pond watershed that are currently on septic systems.

But the planning board’s decision mandates a town sewer hook-up for Navigator Homes, when it can be achieved without flouting the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

The DEP sent a letter to the board this week indicating that Edgartown needs to submit a town wastewater plan, with Navigator Homes included, in order for the complex to receive state approval for the hook-up.

Mr. Olivier and Navigator Homes attorney Geoghan Coogan agreed Tuesday that sewering is the best option, as long as the town can make it available without legal jeopardy for the project.

“That’s still our preferred option,” Mr. Olivier said.

The town wastewater plant is nearly at capacity, with future upgrades planned.

In deference to the wastewater commission and board of health, expected to take up Navigator Homes later this month, the planning board placed no other wastewater conditions on its approval.

Board members Glenn Searle and Scott Morgan, who previously had sided with neighbors opposed to the project, said Tuesday that their chief concerns had been addressed.

“All of my questions and objections have been answered . . . At this point I’m okay with everything,” Mr. Morgan said, during deliberations.

“This is a really well put together project,” board member Mike McCourt said. “I don’t think that we could ask for any more.”

Mr. Searle advised the applicants to “play well with the neighbors.”

Board chair Lucy Morrison said she, Mr. Coogan and planning board administrator Doug Finn will finalize the language of the conditions before the board signs its decision March 6.

“We as a board have done everything we can in our power to make it as good for us and for Edgartown as we can,” Ms. Morrison said.