South Mountain Co.’s affordable housing proposal, which aims to reconcile the conditions the Martha’s Vineyard Commission placed on the company’s previous project, went before the commission at a public hearing Thursday night. The arrangement, the developer said, would be very typical on the housing-armored island.
The commission is evaluating the project as a regional impact (DRI). The plan is to build four homes with a total of 11 bedrooms on approximately three acres of land in West Tisbury. South Mountain, one of the island’s largest architecture and design firms, plans to buy the land from Island Condominium, a neighborhood of homes that share common facilities.
There are three two bedroom apartments and one four bedroom apartment. The Island Housing Trust owns the land and rents out the houses.
“The homes will be leased like a typical IHT development,” said South Mountain CEO John Abrams. “People will buy the buildings but not the land.”
South Mountain uses the two two-bedroom houses as staff housing for its employees. The other two-bedroom unit will be IHT-rated and sold to a family earning up to 80 percent of the median income, or roughly $98,000 for a family of four. A four bedroom house for sale direct to an island family with a deed requirement for year round use.
“These high-performance homes are really focused on healthy interiors and very low-maintenance exteriors for tenants,” said Matt Coffey, South Mountain Architect.
In the year In 2019, South Mountain received commission approval to add wood storage and shop space, as well as convert the existing store into a meeting space and business office in West Tisbury. The commission required South Mountain to pay $150,000 for the affordable housing project. Or provide an equivalent amount as one of the pre-bono services to approve the project. The housing plan currently before the commission is to satisfy this situation.
The Commissioner’s inquiries focused on the four-bedroom house. Commissioners Joan Malkin and Doug Cederholm wondered if the house would sell for market value since there is no income limit.
A year-round ban would reduce the value of a home by about 20 percent, Mr. Abrams said. While there is no official income limit, he said the deed restriction makes the house affordable for an Island family.
“This is kind of new ground; especially if we have a housing bank, we’ll see a lot,” Mr. Abrams said.
The commission will close the public hearing and begin deliberations at a future meeting.
In another workday Thursday, the commission voted to demolish a historic home at 17 School Street in Oak Bluffs.
Built in the camp style in the late 1800s, the home is listed in MACRIS, the state database for historic homes. The owner of the house, Lucy Thomson, asked to demolish the house due to structural and mechanical defects. The plan for the new house is to redo the facade parts and reuse the interior door.
The roll call vote was 10 in favor and one opposed to allow demolition. Commissioners Fred Hancock, Tripp Barnes, Linda Sibley, Mr. Cederholm, Jim Vercruse, Ernie Thomas, Jeff Agnoli, Greg Martino, Brian Smith and Mrs. Malkin voted. Commissioner Kate Putnam was the only commissioner to vote no.
“It will make a house that is currently unlivable into something livable,” said Commissioner Fred Hancock.