Workforce housing was in the spotlight at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission Thursday night when the owner of the Lampost in Oak Bluffs aired a formal request to reduce the number of restricted workforce apartments from 10 to four in the building at 6 Circuit avenue.

Owner Adam Cummings did not attend the hearing but was represented by two attorneys. The meeting was marked by testy exchanges at times.

There are two issues in front of the commission: the request by Mr. Cummings to modify a 2018 decision by the MVC allowing the apartment project as all-workforce housing, and a separate issue of noncompliance with the 2018 approval. It was discovered in August that a number of the apartments had been rented out as short-term rentals via Airbnb since 2019.

The project dates to 2016-2017 when the MVC approved a plan to convert the top three floors of the building into residential housing. The initial approval was for dormitory-style housing. In 2018 the project was modified to apartments after a zoning bylaw change in Oak Bluffs cleared the way for so-called top-of-the shop apartments over downtown buildings.

The modficiation was approved by the commission after reviewing the project as a development of regional impact (DRI). There are 10 units with 22 bedrooms, all restricted for workforce or year-round housing.

On Thursday Jonathan Holter, one of the attorneys representing Mr. Cummings, said the owner is no longer out of compliance, and DRI coordinator Alex Elvin confirmed that at least nine of the units are currently being used for workforce housing.

Mr. Holter urged commissioners to focus on the modification request, which he said is in line with other projects approved by the commission, including the Phillips Hardware project.

He also said language in the original DRI decision that said workforce housing “as needed” presented what he called a “gray area” of interpretation.

“Regardless of how you read the original DRI, we are in compliance,” Mr. Holter said. “We acknowledge . . . the need for more attainable workforce housing on the Island,” he continued. “The offer before you, I think, is a generous offer on the part of the applicant to address that.”

But commissioners disputed the notion that there was anything unclear about the prior decision. “This was all about workforce housing,” said commissioner Trip Barnes, who sat on the reviews.

Commissioner Fred Hancock agreed. “I don’t believe the argument by the applicant holds water in any way whatsoever,” Mr. Hancock said. “And I think it strains the credibility of the applicant to think that we are so gullible that we can’t read English.”

Town officials strongly urged the commission to not allow the modification, underscoring the current housing crisis and the hardshp on business owners.

“Worforce housing is more important than short-term rentals . . . this is a breach of trust we have had with the community and the business owners downtown,” said Mark Leonard, a member of the Oak Bluffs Affordable Housing Committee. “Businesses are having to reduce their hours because they can’t house staff.”

Planning board chairman Ewell Hopkins agreed, saying if the modification is approved it will put his board in a difficult spot since it approved a special permit based on the MVC’s decision.

“The compliance issue needs to be vetted . . . we are possbily rewarding what I would call bad behavior,” Mr. Hopkins said.

Both boards have written letters to the commission urging it to not allow the modification.

Jeffrey Dubard, a member of the West Tisbury affordable housing committee who is also developing housing on the Vineyard, said allowing the modification could open the door for developers who say they want to help the workforce housing problem but end up acting in their own interest.

“At a time when the housing issue is so significant, I think that we cannot afford to put that out there in the development community,” Mr. DuBard said.

Commissioner Doug Sederholm closed the hearing. The written record will stay open until April 21.

In other business, a public hearing continued on Aidylberg III, an Island Elderly Housing project to build a third complex at 38 Wing Road.

Design and architectural details are under discusion, as well as the demolition of a 1900-era house to make way for the project that took place without prior approval by the MVC.

Commission executive director Adam Turner announced that the Vineyard Vision Fellowship will fund two new positions to aid the ongoing work on energy planning.

One position will be an energy planner with the commision; the other will be a position with Vineyard Power, the Island energy cooperative.

Mr. Turner and climate change planner Liz Durkee both credited Kate Warner of West Tisbury and Noli Taylor of Aquinnah for their assistance with the grant application.

“It’s really exciting that we’re going to have two more full-time people working on energy issues here on the Island,” Ms. Durkee said.

The commission decided not to require a public hearing on a request by the owner of 10 State Road to remove some trees to expand an existing driveway. Joe Grillo had an informal agreement with the previous owners of the Edu Comp building to share the driveway. The new owner of the building, who has a redevelopment plan pending in front of the commission, has not agreed to the prior arrangement.

“They can’t wait for [the dispute] to be resolved because they’ve got to have access to their rear building,” Mr. Sederholm said.