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Tisbury Marketplace

                                                                                Tisbury Market Place before development

Re: VCS Testimony on DRI 485: Tisbury Marketplace expansion

Dear Commissioners:

The Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS) fought hard (during the time of Tisbury’s withdrawal from the MVC) in 1980-82 to oppose development of the Tisbury Marketplace on Lagoon Pond. That opposition was joined by entities ranging from Tisbury Lagoon Association, Tisbury and Oak Bluffs fishermen, and residents and officials from the two affected towns. Concerns included building the parking lot in a flood zone, and wastewater issues. Development eventually occurred, but the reduced density concession was deemed a victory. The density limit was upheld with the 1987 MVC decision in DRI 253.

VCS opposes the current request for new density. The issues are largely the same: parking is proposed within 100’ of wetlands, threatening contamination of the Lagoon. Regarding wastewater, now handled by sewer, it is our understanding that the no-net-growth mandate of the town sewer policy is intended to discourage new generation. To the extent there is surplus flow assigned to this location, it should be for businesses with existing square footage. Sewer department action on the plan should follow MVC review since DRI referral by a town board (in this case the conservation commission) tolls the clock as well as any other municipal review.

Expanded density can’t be justified. Our recollection is that permission to pave the parking access was granted in exchange for assurances that the existing open space would remain a permanent feature of the site plan. The rationale was that the open space would offset the placement of impermeable surface. Suggested mitigation in the form of roof gardens fails to conform to any conventional definition of open space. Also, absent a funding mechanism to ensure perpetual maintenance, the roof garden idea, while novel, falls short. As an aside, regarding the applicant’s estimate of the ratio of permeable to non-impermeable surface, already saturated areas, specifically the (frequently inundated) offshore sand spit, should be excised from the calculation.

It is also worth mentioning that the project area includes former submerged lands defined as "Tidelands'' under MGL Ch. 91. That Public Waterfront Act is administered by Mass DEP's Bureau of Resource Protection to ensure that the Commonwealth's waterways are used primarily for water-dependent purposes and that the public has access to and use of these waterways. Ch 91 encourages access to Great Ponds like the Lagoon. All filled tidelands, generally considered "trust lands", are subject to licensing and permitting by DEP under 310 CMR 9.00.

The purpose of that regulation includes preserving and protecting the rights in tidelands of the inhabitants of the Commonwealth by ensuring that the tidelands are utilized only for water-dependent uses or otherwise serve a proper public purpose.

Thank you.

Brendan O’Neill

VCS Executive Director