The Martha’s Vineyard Commission decided Thursday not to review a demolition on Hatch Road in Vineyard Haven, but first there was more wide-ranging discussion about the role of the commission in reviewing tear-downs — and beyond.

“It’s an interesting heads up about where we are now,” commissioner Kathy Newman said at the meeting Thursday night. “I keep thinking about character, and maybe we have to rethink what we mean by historical sigificance.”

Demolition projects are on the rise. Last week an MVC subcommittee began reviewing the demolition of a home on Wing Road in Oak Bluffs that dated to 1900 and was torn down without required prior review. The project is intended to make way for an elderly housing project.

Slide shows dates of houses in neighborhood, with 22 Hatch Road highlighted. — Courtesy MVC

On Monday the same subcommittee will begin a post-public hearing review of a historic house on Indian Hill Road in West Tisbury that the owners want to demolish.

On Thursday night the commission took up the project at 22 Hatch Road in Vineyard Haven. Property owners David and Lisa Grain plan to demolish the roughly 7,000-square foot house and build a roughly 13,000-square-foot, five-bedroom house, according to commission documents. The Grains also own a large waterfront property next door which was extensively renovated in 2013. They bought 22 Hatch Road in 2020 for $2.4 million, land records show.

The house dates originally to 1900 but has been extensively remodeled several times over the years. It does not lie in the town historic district. The Tisbury historic district commission has recommended allowing the demolition, advising that the materials be salvaged for use by Habitat for Humanity or other affordable housing groups.

Jeffrey Dubard, a West Tisbury resident who attended the meeting, said he plans to relocate the buildings for use as affordable housing elsewhere, although no written agreements with the property owners were submitted to the commission as part of the application.

As commissioners debated whether to review the demolition project, many factors weighed on them.

A slide prepared by MVC staff showed that the majority of the houses in the neighborhood date to around 1900.

“This is situated in a mature neigborhood,” said commissioner Ben Robinson, who argued in favor of review. “Since we don’t know what’s going to replace it . . . I think it’s incumbent on us to see what’s going to replace this,” he continued. “We need to take seriously a house that’s been there for over 100 years. We really don’t understand how they are going to salvage it either . . . It’s loose enough, so if they don’t figure it out they don’t have to do it. We’re not doing our job in protecting a mature neighborhood if we don’t see what is going to replace it.”

Commissioner Brian Smith disagreed.

“It does not resemble a house built in 1900,” he said. “Whether we consider what happens in the future would be relevant if the historic commission said it was historic — then we would need to consider that. But without that definition, no one is saying it looks like a historic property.”

Commissioner Christine Todd said Nantucket had begun to address the issue of what she said is termed “creeping reconstruction,” and said she believed review was warranted.

“I think there is history in this property. I think the neighborhood has to be considered . . . I’m not really keen on just saying, go ahead and tear it down.”

Commissioner Jeff Agnoli raised concern about the environmental impacts of tear-downs. Commisisoner Jay Grande say he too was concerned about neighborhood preservation, but thought the historic district commission recommendation should hold sway.

Commissioner Michael Kim suggested the commission ask the town to document the parts of the house that are historic. “It seems to be a minimum requirement to keep the history of this building whether it is still standing or not,” he said.

But commissioner Doug Sederholm said without review, the MVC cannot attach conditions to the project.

Mr. Sederholm said for him the historic commission recommendation was a strong deciding factor, but he commented too on the painful nature of seeing “a perfectly lovely house” be torn down. “But for the applicant’s desire to have something else there, one would never knock it down,” Mr. Sederholm said.

In the end the vote was 10-5 to not review the project. The roll call vote follows.

Voting to not review: Trip Barnes, Jay Grande, Joan Malkin, Linda Sibley, Doug Sederholm, Michael Kim, Jim Vercruysse, Fred Hancock, Brian Smith and Ernie Thomas.

Voting in favor of review: Jeff Agnoli, Jay Grossman, Kathy Newman, Ben Robinson and Christine Todd.