Traffic, parking and neighborhood concerns took the stage last week at a hearing of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, which is reviewing a proposed expansion of the Edgartown Stop & Shop.

Stop & Shop plans to expand its main Island location by 17,432 square feet (about 69 per cent), and replace the former Edgartown National Bank building (now a Rockland Trust branch), that stands just west of the store on Upper Main street.

The commission is reviewing the project as a development of regional impact (DRI).

Commissioners listen to the details. — Mark Lovewell

“This is not your typical box store,” Vineyard Haven attorney Geoghan Coogan, representing the grocery chain, at the hearing Thursday, held in the Edgartown Library. “There are features to this store that we are incorporating so that it fits in with the town of Edgartown.”

Presentations by members of a project team covered issues related to traffic, parking, noise mitigation, sustainability, drainage and employee housing. About 30 people attended.

The project aims to modernize and enlarge the store, which was expanded in 1989 and 1996 and now occupies about 25,259 square feet. Project manager Lisa Davis of Lisa Davis Associates pointed to a number issues with the building, including aisle width, the absence of indoor cart storage and an aging heating and cooling system.

“This is going to be a complete remodel,” she said of the project, which will include two entrances, wider aisles, an expanded area for produce, natural foods and a delicatessan, space for 44 shopping carts inside the entrances and a new loading dock.

Much of the discussion focused on traffic to and from the site, which planners estimate will increase by 207 trips at peak summer weekday hours (about 48 per cent, or four trips per minute). The existing western entrance would be moved east to align with Pinehurst Road across Upper Main street, to help relieve congestion and improve circulation in the front parking lot.

Traffic engineer Randy Hart of the engineering firm VHB said the increased number of trips would not be a major change, although he acknowledged that traffic is already congested in the area.

Commissioner Ernie Thomas questioned the location of the new entrance, and how easily customers would be able to get to the store from Pinehurst Road. “You can barely get out,” he said. “I don’t see you coming across two lanes of traffic in August.”

MVC executve director Adam Turner (left), commission chairman James Vercruysse. — Mark Lovewell

Vineyard Transit Authority director Angela Grant said the potential increase in trips per day was alarming, but not necessarily Stop and Shop’s responsibility. She suggested several changes to the plan, including reversing the traffic directions at the west entrance to improve circulation, and erring on the side of caution in terms of the number of parking spots, given an expected increase of up to 35 employees. (In addition to new floor space, the Stop and Shop pharmacy at the Triangle would relocate to the expanded building.)

Plans call for 178 parking spots — 49 per cent more than the 127 required under town zoning laws. But the proposed 27 spots for bicycles would fall well short of the 60 required by the town, and Ms. Davis said a town waiver may be needed.

A new parking lot would replace a partly vegetated area west of the building and increase the site’s impermeability to rainwater. A new drainage plan would use three existing runoff systems at the site and add a larger system under the new parking lot. The plan aims to help reduce flooding that now occurs near the store entrance.

A total of 13 trees will be replaced, including a number of cherry trees along the front of the site. David Taglianetti, managing director of land development for VHB, said pin oaks would be more drought tolerant than the existing oaks on the property, and that crabapple trees would be easier to maintain than the cherry trees. Twenty additional trees will also be planted.

Some commissioners took issue with basic aspects of the building plan, including the absence of a basement and second floor.

Commissioner Clarence A. (Trip) Barnes 3rd sharply questioned the absence of a basement, arguing that it could add 13,000 square feet and help mitigate noise by having certain activities occur underground. “That’s the big question of the evening,” he said.

Commissioner Richard Toole inquired about a second floor as a way to reduce the overall building footprint. But Mr. Taglianetti said he was unaware of other Stop and Shops that have two floors, or how that would work from an operational standpoint.

Samira Ahmadi, an analyst for enviENERGY Studio, said the roof of the existing building would be unable to support solar panels, although a plan for rooftop solar panels on the expanded section is under consideration. The building will be designed according to the latest LEED guidelines for building design and construction.

Public hearing continues Oct. 19. — Mark Lovewell

Stop & Shop has agreed to make an annual contribution to the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority to comply with the commission’s affordable housing policy. The company said it already provides 75 beds for Edgartown Stop and Shop employees. The company has no plans to build new housing for employees.

A 12-foot fence would be built along the property line to help mitigate noise from a new loading area behind the building, and an eight-foot fence planned for the roof aims to help mitigate noise from rooftop equipment. Mr. Taglianetti said with a taller roof, the equipment would not be visible from the road.

One abutter pressed for an additional wall to keep litter from drifting into his property on the south side of the parking lot.

Other questions focused on the proposed bank building, with commissioners asking for more information since a detailed plan was not presented at the hearing. An MVC staff report says the new building will occupy 1,010 square feet, an increase of about 66 per cent. Commissioner Fred Hancock challenged the proposed placement of the building, arguing that its worst side would face the street.

Commissioner Ben Robinson asked how the expanded selection in the supermarket would support the local food movement on the Island. Mr. Coogan said a bigger store would mean more opportunities to carry local products. “That would definitely be more of an outreach, to go to more local farmers and businesses and bring that product into the store,” he said.

Mr. Robinson asked for a clearer plan related to local food.

The hearing was continued to Oct. 19.