The West Tisbury select board intervened this week to try to get a town-sponsored affordable housing project at 401 State Road back on track after the project’s architect withdrew, citing tensions with members of the town's affordable housing committee.

In a letter sent to Island Housing Trust Sept. 21, South Mountain Company chief executive officer John Abrams said the affordable housing committee had been uncooperative and unwilling “to engage with us in a civil and collaborative process that would successfully lead to a solution that served all interests.”

The project at 401 State Road, three acres of town-owned land near the intersection of Lambert’s Cove Road, was approved by West Tisbury voters at the annual town meeting in May 2021 after lengthy discussion and debate.

In August the select board awarded a bid for the work to the nonprofit Island Housing Trust, which subsequently contracted with South Mountain as the architect to design the project.

But in his letter last week, Mr. Abrams described a contentious Sept. 13 meeting with the affordable housing committee.

“The AHC voted to accept the proposal, but at the same time the majority of the committee expressed their disappointment vehemently and sometimes disrespectfully . . . some of their statements made it clear to us that we are not on the same page,” Mr. Abrams wrote, in part.

He wrote further that the draft design for the project was driven by community concerns expressed at the annual town meeting, including preserving some of the natural vegetation on the property and keeping the development screened from the road.

“We studied the property in depth. We carefully considered and responded to all aspects of the RFP,” Mr. Abrams wrote. “Ultimately, we proposed tightly clustered multi-family housing as a balanced approach to land conservation and development.”

At their regular meeting on Wednesday this week, select board members aired the problem and discussed the next steps. Affordable housing committee members, along with Mr. Abrams and spokesmen for Island Housing Trust, attended the meeting.

“It’s disheartening that the actions of the committee seem to have steered things awry,” said board chair Cynthia Mitchell, who expressed a desire to get South Mountain back on board. Larry Schubert, a member of the zoning board of appeals who sits on the affordable housing committee, agreed, criticizing the committee for its behavior.

“The AHC was at times very spiky and at times fairly disrespectful . . .I think we were micromanaging the process,” he said.

Mr. Abrams also spoke, calling out four members of the committee whom he did not name but said impeded the project. He said he felt the select board needed to address “the makeup of the committee and its dysfunctional nature.”

In the end the select board said it would hold a joint meeting with the affordable housing committee to try and resolve the issues.

“Let’s not forget, the committee has done some pretty incredible work,” Ms. Mitchell said.

No date was immediately set for the joint meeting.