Edgartown voters last night continued to back the Pennywise Path affordable housing project, turning a deaf ear to pleas that called for postponing the controversial taking of a second access road to the development.

Residents approved all 12 articles on the special town meeting warrant, including a $310,000 appropriation to bring water, sewerage and electricity to the project.

The only significant debate of the night turned on a series of three proposals aimed at taking Tenth street south by eminent domain and appropriating almost $130,000 to pave and construct the road.

James Athearn, the town's elected representative to the Martha's Vineyard Commission, started the discussion by asking voters to hold off any action on the Tenth street plan until the annual town meeting in April.

"I think there's a lack of understanding about where this road is going to go. It will impact people on that street so much - their backyards will become that road," said Mr. Athearn, who was MVC chairman during the commission's lengthy review of the project last summer.

"Postponing this taking wouldn't slow down the project and wouldn't keep it from happening. It would just make the process of looking for a second access a little longer," he added.

Alan Gowell, a member of the town access committee that selected Tenth street as the best option for an alternate entrance to the project, repeatedly urged voters to approve the proposals out of fairness to residents of Twelfth street - currently the only access to the development.

"It's not fair to the Twelfth street residents to postpone this if the people of Tenth street could share the burden equally," Mr. Gowell said. "Let's spread the pain and put half of the burden on Tenth street."

Mr. Athearn's motion to postpone failed by a close voice vote, which moderator Philip J. Norton Jr. accepted without asking for a hand count.

Voters approved the first of the three Tenth street articles 133-60. The second article, which required two-thirds approval, passed by a larger margin.

Turnout for the meeting was 232 residents. Almost eight per cent of registered voters, they filled the Old Whaling Church for the special town meeting.

Many of the people who spoke last night applauded town leaders for their commitment to the housing development.

"I think we have to keep the big picture in mind when we vote on these issues," said William Meyer of School street. "And the big picture is that affordable housing is a major need for every community on the Island."

Others, however, expressed frustration about tying Tenth street deliberations to the Island's affordable housing crisis.

"I'm a little uncomfortable that because we have reservations about this one road, other people would perceive that is not a support of affordable housing," one resident said. "I think all of us care about affordable housing."

The affordable housing commitment is longstanding. Edgartown set aside 12 acres of town-owned land behind Arbutus Park several years ago for affordable housing.

Two years ago, the town unveiled plans to lease the land to The Community Builders (TCB), a private nonprofit development corporation based in Boston, which will build and manage the 60 rental units offered to mixed-income Island residents. Affordable housing committee members said that Edgartown taxpayers who want to live there will have priority to 70 per cent of the units.

The access issues was not the only sticking point for some voters. The scale of the project raised concern for residents of Arbutus Park

Residents of that neighborhood have consistently asked the town to provide a second entrance to the development from the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road.

The town intended to build an artery off Metcalf Road, but that plan stumbled since it required removing a conservation restriction from a portion of Vineyard Golf Club land - a complicated process needing approval by the state legislature.

Mr. Gowell said last week that he has not followed up on the Metcalf plan since the state failed take up the necessary piece of legislation last July, but he assured voters last night that the committee had not abandoned the idea.

A number of voters remained skeptical.

"My concern is that if we build Tenth, we'll abandon Metcalf - and to me that's not fair," Peter Look said. "Would it be disadvantageous to the project to have this wait until annual town meeting, and at that time be better prepared to answer questions with regard to Metcalf?"

Mr. Look made a motion to postpone the third Tenth street proposal - which asked for a $130,000 to construct the road - but Mr. Norton never called for a second to the motion, and discussion continued.

Mr. Athearn pointed out that since the Martha's Vineyard Commission will still have to review Tenth street as a second road, the town might want to hold off on appropriating money for construction until the MVC approves it.

"My interest in this is mostly just to avoid making a step that we can't take back later," Mr. Athearn said. "Once you take down all those trees, you can't put them back."

Just before the appropriation passed by a majority voice vote, selectman Michael Donaroma said the town would not construct the road until it has received all of the necessary approvals and permits.

"We still have to go back to the commission, hire a traffic engineer, and go through public hearings," he said. "The planning board will be involved, the police department will be involved, and the neighbors will certainly be involved."