The Martha’s Vineyard Commission got its first look at the Edgartown National Bank’s ambitious plans to demolish the Oyster Bar, an Oak Bluffs restaurant, and build a three-story building in its place. On Monday, building plans presented to commissioners included a bank branch, two commercial units and four two-story townhouse condominiums at the Circuit avenue site of the former restaurant.
Edgartown National Bank foreclosed on the Oyster Bar earlier this year. The building dates to the 1880s and at one point served as a town library, but since 1967 has been a restaurant. On Monday architect William Christopher admitted that the plans represented the “maximum development” allowed for the lot but that they conformed to zoning. Commissioner Doug Sederholm was unimpressed.
“This regulatory body is not constrained by zoning,” he said. “What I see in this design is a very nice design but one that maxes out the use of the space . . . Just because it conforms to zoning is just the beginning of the discussion.”
A similar three-story redevelopment plan for the site was floated before the commission in 2007. At the time commissioners expressed wariness about that plan’s bulk.
“I’m sitting here listening carefully and saying to myself, ‘I’ve been here before,’” said commissioner Ned Orleans. “If you have not obtained copies of minutes of those meetings I would urge you to do it . . . Those meetings were very difficult. They were difficult for the commission and they were difficult for the community. And I haven’t heard anything today that I didn’t hear four years ago.”
The commission already has received three correspondences about the proposed redevelopment from abutters in the Camp Ground objecting to the size and scope of the project.
On Monday some commissioners said the change in use could mitigate impacts associated with living next to a popular downtown restaurant, noting that the Oyster Bar had a sometimes strained relationship with its Camp Ground neighbors.
“A lot fewer bank customers relieve themselves in the alley,” said Mr. Sederholm.
“That’s the other bank,” said Edgartown National Bank president Fielding Moore.
Commissioners tentatively scheduled a public hearing on the issue for April 26.