At a standing-room-only public hearing, the Edgartown planning board this week heard arguments for and against the proposed Edgartown Meat and Fish Market at the Triangle. Applicant John Ready faced questions about competition, traffic and trash, some of them from neighboring business owners.
The planning board voted to continue the hearing for two weeks, pending a decision by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission last night on whether to review the project as a development of regional impact (DRI). A commission subcommittee voted early this week to recommend that the project does not need MVC review.
“The market is a throwback to the neighborhood market and will have seafood, meat, wine and beer to go,” said attorney Sean Murphy, who represented Mr. Ready at the hearing. “One of the reasons the Readys chose this location is so many of their potential customers will already be in the Post Office square area.”
Mr. Ready plans to buy the former Hollywood Video location at Post Office Square, and divide it into two separate storefronts. The market would occupy 4,850 square feet of the location, while Mr. Ready would rent out the remaining 1,210 square feet to a separate retail operation. The main food items sold will be meat and fish, but the market also plans to sell items for dinner, baked goods, panini, sandwiches, homemade bagels and roasted coffee beans. Mr. Ready’s son, Sean, will manage the market; hours of operation are planned as 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The market plans to stay open year-round. Mr. Ready will need a special permit from the planning board for a change of use. He has not yet obtained a liquor sales license and must apply to the selectmen for that.
Upper Main street businessmen were on hand on Tuesday night to pepper the applicant with questions.
“Have you talked to local vendors? When we first heard about this, it’s an emotional issue, a lot of us hang on our nails in the winter,” Edgartown Pizza owner Chris White said. “It’s really hard. I have concerns about parking and trucks at the post office.”
Mr. Ready and Mr. Murphy said deliveries would not be from large trucks and would take place about 10 times a week.
“Have you done a study? Most of the businesses can’t even stay open here in winter because it gets so slow,” said planning board member Fred Mascolo, who owns a business at the Triangle. “The ones who do, operate at a loss,” the owner of Trader Fred’s said.
Mr. Ready said that like his two Shelbourne Markets in Vermont, a winter loss is built into the business plan for the Vineyard location. Questioned by Edgartown Seafood owner Dan Larsen about permitting issues for keeping meat, fish and chicken in the same cooler, Mr. Ready said he would look into it.
“This will be a first-class operation, the same as they do in Vermont,” Mr. Murphy said. “As far as the concern with people eating food . . . As for the traffic issues, those are general issues about the Triangle area. The store itself will not increase traffic.”
Kathy Lattanzi, owner of Lattanzi’s restaurant downtown, said she was concerned for the six other liquor vendors in town, but planning board chairman Alan Wilson said that is an issue for the selectmen, not the planning board.
“I’ll support them, I think it’s an excellent place to have a market,” Laurence A. Mercier, who formerly owned Mercier’s Market in downtown Edgartown many years ago. “I would like to see it here.”
“It’ll be a nice addition,” added Paul Ronan, who owns other commercial property at Post Office Square.
“[The square] now has a giant hole, one quarter of it is empty,” Mr. Murphy concluded. “This is a good use for that, and it will serve a niche in town.”
The hearing will continue on Feb. 15.