The new owners of the Lambert’s Cove Inn hope to expand their facilities with the construction of five new guest cabins, they told the West Tisbury zoning board of appeals Thursday evening.

“We love this Island, that’s a big reason we invested more heavily into it,” said inn owner John Cain. “We’re just trying to add value and make it better.”

Mr. Cain is applying for a special permit from the board to extend and alter the inn’s pre-existing, nonconforming use. The inn, located on Manaquayak Road in West Tisbury, is allowed to operate in the residential neighborhood because it predates residential zoning bylaws, but major changes require zoning board approval. The zoning board could also refer the project to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission as a development of regional impact.

The proposed cabins would each be 400 square feet and have a small bathroom and patio.

Mr. Cain purchased the inn for $5.5 million last April from Scott Jones and Kell Hicklin.

John Cain, the new owner of the Lambert's Cove Inn, is applying for a special permit from the board to extend and alter the inn’s pre-existing, non-conforming use. — Holly Pretsky

After a review of multiple letters from members of the community and a lengthy speech from Mr. Cain, the zoning board voted to continue the hearing on the inn’s expansion to Feb. 7 at 5:55 p.m. They plan a site visit before that date.

Multiple neighbors of the boutique hotel, which currently has 15 guest rooms and a 70-seat restaurant, wrote letters outlining their concerns about a possible expansion. The board read many of the letters aloud during the meeting. Many neighbors also attended the meeting.

Most concerns fell into a few broad categories: the potential increase in noise and traffic that could come with expanded capacity, overuse of Manaquayak Road, strain on the septic system and a perceived threat to the residential character of the neighborhood. Many also noted that the inn’s new owners had already been granted permission from selectmen to increase the number of weddings they are permitted to host each season.

“We have loved having the inn as part of our neighborhood, but adding additional rooms would negatively impact the neighborhood with its increased traffic and we are not in support of it,” wrote Sarah Hibler.

Nicholas Puner outlined several concerns in his letter, including that the neighborhood road was already strained by traffic and delivery trucks.

“It would expand and intensify the nonconformity,” he wrote of the expansion. “Over the years, the use of Manaquayak Road, which is one lane, poorly paved, and probably not expandable, has increased dramatically.”

“We certainly both appreciate the vitality and small town feel of the mixed use that has continued in this neighborhood, but it is feeling overwhelmed now,” wrote Tucker and Martha Hubbell.

The board also received many letters supporting the proposed expansion “Lambert’s Cove Inn is a valuable asset to the neighborhood. It’s in the best interests of the neighborhood, the town of West Tisbury, and the Island of Martha’s Vineyard for it to continue to operate successfully,” one said.

One neighbor, Ted Karalekas, spoke to the board in favor of the changes.

“This is a guy who’s opening up the place and trying to get the neighborhood together,” he said.

Mr. Cain addressed the board after letters were read and said the additional cabins would not necessarily bring more traffic. He said new cabins would bring more revenue because of higher prices, not additional guests. He also offered to reduce the number of seats in the restaurant from 70 to 65 to offset the expansion.