The South Mountain Company’s affordable housing proposal, seeking to reconcile a condition the Martha’s Vineyard Commission had imposed on an earlier project by the company, was presented to the commission at a public hearing Thursday evening. The scenario, the developer said, is one that will become more common on the housing-strapped island.

The commission is reviewing the project as a Regional Impact Development (DRI). The plan is to build four houses with a total of 11 bedrooms on a plot of approximately three acres in West Tisbury. South Mountain, one of the island’s largest architecture and design firms, plans to purchase the land from Island Co-Housing, a neighborhood of homes that share common facilities.

Three two-bedroom houses and one four-bedroom house are offered. The Island Housing Trust will own the land and lease the houses.

“The homes will be leased on the ground, like a typical IHT development,” South Mountain general manager John Abrams said. “The buildings will belong to the people who buy them, but not the land.”

South Mountain will use two of the two-bedroom houses as accommodations for its employees. The other two-bedroom unit will be developed by IHT and sold to a household representing up to 80% of the area’s median income, or about $98,000 for a four-person household. The four-bedroom house will be sold directly to an island family with a deed requirement that it be used year-round.

“These are high-performance homes that are really focused on healthy interiors and very low-maintenance exteriors for tenants,” said Matt Coffey, architect at South Mountain.

In 2019, South Mountain received commission approval for a project to add lumber storage and store space as well as convert an existing store to meeting and office space in its business operations at West Tisbury. The commission demanded that South Mountain pay $150,000 for an affordable housing project. or provide an equivalent amount of free service as one of its conditions of project approval. The housing plan currently before the commission is supposed to satisfy this condition.

The commissioner’s questions were about the four-bedroom house. Commissioners Joan Malkin and Doug Sederholm wondered if the house would be sold at market price since there were no income restrictions imposed on it.

The act restricting property to year-round occupancy devalues ​​a home by around 20%, Mr Abrams said. While there is no official income restriction, he said the deed restriction will also make the home affordable for an island family.

“It’s kind of a new ground; we’re going to see a lot of that, especially if we have a housing bank,” Abrams said. “Homes will be limited to year-round occupancy without necessarily being limited to an income limit.”

The commission has closed the public hearing and will begin deliberations at a future meeting.

In other business Thursday, the commission voted to authorize the demolition of a historic home at 17 School Street in Oak Bluffs.

Built in the late 1800s in the camping style, the house is listed in MACRIS, the National Historic Homes Database. Lucy Thomson, the owner of the house, asked to have it demolished due to structural and mechanical defects that made the house unsalvageable. The plan for the new house is to replicate parts of the front facade and reuse an interior door.

The roll call vote was 10 in favor of authorizing the demolition and one against. Commissioners Fred Hancock, Trip Barnes, Linda Sibley, Mr Sederholm, Jim Vercruysse, Ernie Thomas, Jeff Agnoli, Greg Martino, Brian Smith and Ms Malkin voted in favour. Commissioner Kate Putnam was the only commissioner to vote no.

“It will transform a house that is currently unlivable into something that is livable,” Commissioner Fred Hancock said.

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