MVC Approves Harbor View Expansion
The Martha’s Vineyard Commission on Thursday evening approved changes to the Harbor View Hotel’s Regional Impact Development (DRI), which will allow the hotel to build a new spa.
During a three-and-a-half-hour meeting, deliberations on the spa were overshadowed by lengthy discussions of business expansion, the character of the island, and the piecemeal approvals of the project.
The approval came after several months and four public hearings with several conditions such as restricting the spa to hotel guests only with all charges going to hotel rooms, a private house at 119 North Water St. cannot. be used for hotel operations only with commission approval, and the hotel must provide the commission with a five-year master plan and plans for the property to go all-electric. Additionally, the hotel must present a plan for its controversial pool bar which is part of an ongoing legal battle between the hotel and its neighbors. In addition, Harbor View must pay a total of $ 517,000 for affordable housing mitigation for the Bradley Cottage spa and other cabins.
The commission also demanded that the hotel do its best to form a neighborhood preservation committee. The committee must include all interested hotel scorers within a 600-foot radius. Those from outside who can join the committee with the approval of the president.
Abutters vehemently opposed the project, sending dozens of letters to the commission and voicing criticism of the expansion during the project’s multiple public hearings.
The final vote included one abstention with Commissioners Clarence “Trip” Barnes III, Josh Goldstein, Michael Kim, Ted Rosbeck, Douglas Sederholm, Linda Sibley, Ernie Thomas and President Joan Malkin voting in favor of the project. Commissioners Jeff Agnoli, Fred Hancock, Kathy Newman, Ben Robinson and Chirstine Todd voted against. Commissioner Jim Vercrussye was the only abstention vote.
“I was hoping that the plaintiff would see a possible refusal to work with the neighbors as they have legitimate concerns and it is clear that they feel they have not been heard,” Vercrussye said of his abstention.
Commissioners who voted yes were divided on why they approved the project. Some said their yes came reluctantly.
“My reluctance to vote yes is due to the fact that I feel like we don’t have a base within the confines of this decision to help the scorers as much as I know we would like to have,” said Malkin .
Barnes said Harbor View is an important part of the island community and has championed the expansion of the project.
“I’m going to vote for this because it seems foolish to me to deny it,” Sibley said. “But… I think this hotel, which I’ve known for 70 years, is turning into something that’s not particularly Vineyard. Do you want to attract people by saying that we have spas? Or do you want to attract people by saying that we have pristine beaches and woods? “
“The vineyard has changed, it’s not coming back to what it was,” Barnes said. “Let’s wake up and give the guy a hand for goodness sake.”
Commissioner Ben Robinson said the commission needs to look at the project from a broader perspective and its impacts on the island.
“Yes, our economy needs to be sustained, but we need to understand that endless growth is going to hurt this island, it already is,” said Robinson. “Our normal year round community is being forced to leave the island because of this. Tourism isn’t going to go bankrupt anytime soon on Martha’s Vineyard.
One of the largest hotels on the island, requests for changes to Harbor View come after two changes of ownership and a fire in one of its buildings in the past 10 years. Bernard Chiu, the current owner, bought the hotel in 2018 before a complete renovation of the property.
Thursday’s approval allows the hotel to build a 4,625 square foot spa at the hotel’s Bradley Cottage with seven treatment rooms, instead of building a previously approved 1,620 square foot spa in the main hotel . The bedrooms at Bradley Cottage will be reduced from 12 to four, and one bedroom will be added at Pease Cottage. There is no clear change in the bedrooms, as eight bedrooms have been added to the Main Hotel and Pease Cottage, and eight bedrooms have been removed from Bradley Cottage.
Parts of the project have already been built in accordance with previous modification approvals, some dating back to 2008. These include increasing the main hotel building from 36 to 40 rooms and increasing the Mayhew Cottage from 48 to 51 bedrooms.
“Maybe they’ll see it’s a reluctant yes,” Newman said of the hotel. “Maybe they should do something about it.”