The proposed Down Island Golf Club in Oak Bluffs is now officially back in the pipeline at the Martha's Vineyard Commission with plans filed last week and an initial hearing scheduled for June 11.
A second go-around for Connecticut developer Corey Kupersmith, this new plan for a luxury private golf course in the Southern Woodlands features a litany of changes, many aimed at quelling worries about environmental impact on wildlife and on the two closest bodies of water - Lagoon Pond and Sengekontacket Pond.
"The Down Island Golf Club is trying to respond as constructively and positively as possible to concerns raised by the commission on the earlier plan," said Mary Ryan, a Boston attorney representing Mr. Kupersmith. The first plan was rejected last year by the commission in two consecutive votes.
Since that action last summer, Mr. Kupersmith has acquired additional acreage, increasing his land holdings in this unbroken stretch of woodlands to over 274 acres. When he first applied for approval from the MVC, he owned 219 acres.
With the added land, the 18 holes of golf have been shifted slightly further to the north and east, away from Lagoon Pond and Featherstone Meetinghouse for the Arts. This shift not only means that the project could avoid disturbing Native American archaeological resources, but would also set aside roughly 76 acres as wooded, open land, continuous to the town-owned 24-acre parcel which lies in the center of Mr. Kupersmith's growing real estate.
"We wanted to respond to questions of contiguous open space and the scientific impact of [land] fragmentation," said Ms. Ryan. "Shifting the holes provides that unfragmented space that many people identified as significant to preserve the value of the Southern Woodlands."
According to the new plan, preservation of the forest land would increase from 50 per cent of the project site to 60 per cent, or roughly 100 acres left intact or uncut.
Commission planners have so far only skimmed the contents of the new plan, a document thicker than a New York city phone book. Charles Clifford, exective director of the MVC, would make no predictions yesterday as to how he thought this next round would play out.
But he said that the June 11 meeting with the land use planning committee will help set the stage for the hearing before the full commission, which will be scheduled to begin two or three weeks after the land use committee finishes its review.
A summary of major changes proposed in the new plan ranges over several issues. One is an offer to lease to the town, at no cost, a part of what was once Webb's Camping Area for use as a community campground. The clubhouse site would also be shifted further eastward, away from the Featherstone center.
In an attempt to address concerns about traffic on Barnes Road, the new plan includes a second access, this one for employees and service vehicles behind the Martha's Vineyard Arena on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.
According to the summary, the managed turf area would be reduced from 74 to 68 acres. Also, Mr. Kupersmith would agree to fund efforts to reduce pond pollution by spending $255,000 over six years on nitrogen reduction improvements.