A veteran housing project planned for Bellevue avenue in Oak Bluffs could break ground by next May after getting approval from the town’s zoning board of appeals this week. 

The board  voted Wednesday to conditionally approve the 12-unit affordable housing project, clearing the last major regulatory hurdle needed to begin the project.

The housing development was proposed by the town of Oak Bluffs, which is working with the Cape and Islands Veterans Outreach Center and the Island Housing Trust, a nonprofit developer based on Martha’s Vineyard.

Island Housing Trust is now working on fundraising for the project, which is estimated to cost $5.4 million. 

“It’s a wonderful town-led effort. It’s been several years at least in the making and it’s moving along well,” Philippe Jordi, the Island Housing Trust’s executive director, told the Gazette after the decision. “We’re hopeful that the funding will come through and we will be able to start next May.”

The project consists of three buildings, each with four one-bedroom apartments that will be available to veterans making between 30 to 80 per cent of the median income. The basement of one of the buildings will be used for resident storage and a resource center with computer desks and room to gather. All buildings will be accessible by ADA-compliant ramps and paths.

Several town entities submitted letters to the zoning board of appeals to say that they were in support of or had no objections to the housing project. 

The board read a letter that Judi O’Donoghue, a neighbor of the proposed project, submitted to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission in regards to construction. While she wrote that she was in support of the project, she stated that she was worried about the increased traffic from construction and residents. 

Ms. O’Donoghue asked for trees that were at least 10 feet tall to be planted in front of her property as a barrier. She added that other properties along the avenue may require a different number of trees.

Jim Bishop, a member of the town’s affordable housing committee and a veteran who has worked on the project, estimated that such plantings would cost around $50,000. Mr. Jordi explained to the board that planting trees could cause more harm to the neighborhood.

“We’re not going to put in 10 foot plants that are going to completely disturb existing vegetation because that would require such a hole in their yard that it will more than likely damage existing roots,” Mr. Jordi said. “Having said that, I’m sure there are solutions that we can find in terms of plantings that would be appropriate...We’re willing to work with them.”

The zoning board of appeals voted to approve the project under the condition that an agreement will be reached between the project team and the neighbors about a plan to mitigate dust, noise and other disturbances during construction over the next two weeks.