A planned Mexican restaurant on Union street in Vineyard Haven took a giant step toward opening this summer when the Tisbury planning board voted 4-1 Wednesday to allow a special permit for the operation.

Developer Sam Dunn and restaurateur Patrick Lyons have proposed opening a taqueria at the former Stone Bank property, pitching the eatery as a fast food restaurant.

Connie Alexander was the lone no vote on the special permit. She said she opposed it because the restaurant’s business plan conflicts with Tisbury’s updated liquor licensing law, which prohibits alcohol service at restaurant bars and fast food restaurants.

“We’re sending forth an application that’s inconsistent with town policy,” Ms. Alexander said.
But liquor licenses are the province of the select board and complying with town bylaws is the business’s responsibility, chair Ben Robinson said at Wednesday’s online meeting.

“It’s incumbent on the operator ... to follow these rules,” Mr. Robinson said, noting that several existing Vineyard Haven restaurants have bar seating already.

“How those spaces function needs to comply with the bylaw, [and] that’s the purview of the select board and the building department,” he said.

The taqueria, which is planned to have a take-out window and outdoor seating for 70 patrons, could be a shot in the arm for downtown Vineyard Haven, Mr. Robinson said.

“Outside seating and outside dining [are] something we don’t really have,” he said. “That … could also activate the downtown area.”

The taqueria now continues its regulatory pilgrimage, which began last December with a Martha’s Vineyard Commission hearing on Mr. Dunn’s request to add the restaurant to his previously-approved mixed-use complex on the former Stone Bank property at Main and Union streets.

That hearing concluded two months later with a 7-3 commission vote to approve the modification with a handful of conditions, sending it on to Tisbury for final reviews and permitting.

Mr. Dunn and Mr. Lyons now must receive a written approval from the planning board, setting out further conditions discussed Wednesday night, before seeking their victualler’s and liquor licenses and other town permits.

One of the conditions, which Mr. Dunn endorsed, will explicitly prohibit liquor service to anyone who is not seated.

The planning board opted not to address noise, which is covered by an existing town ordinance, or odor control, which was requested by neighbors but has not been imposed on any other downtown businesses.

The restaurant will be required to take some responsibility for trash that migrates off the property, although the planning board agreed to limit the area to its immediate surroundings.

The written decision, which Mr. Robinson scheduled for a review and vote on May 17 at 6 p.m., starts the clock on a 20-day appeal period, after which the special permit will go into effect.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dunn and Mr. Lyons must pursue their liquor license before the select board and obtain permits from the town fire and building departments.