Plans to expand a historic inn in Oak Bluffs are on hold after the owners surrendered the project’s approval with the Martha’s Vineyard Commission last week.

Shearer Cottage, a 1912 inn that is the first stop on the Martha’s Vineyard African American Heritage Trail, gained approval from the commission to renovate and expand the property in January 2022. But since then, no work has gone on, and the owners’ attorney last week asked to give up the inn’s development of regional impact (DRI) approval from the commission.

The commission voted unanimously at its July 20 meeting to allow the DRI to be abandoned, essentially ending any renovation plans before they even started.

“It’s as if there was never a DRI,” said Joan Malkin, the chair of the commission. “If there was another proposal by this owner or another owner to do something that triggered the checklist, it would come back as a fresh new DRI.”

The commission reviews developments that are either so large or have such significant impacts on their surroundings that they would affect more than one town on the Island.

The Shearer Cottage project would have significantly renovated and expanded the inn, which was first opened by Charles and Henrietta Shearer as a place for African Americans to stay on the Island.

The inn was planned to be expanded from six to 15 bedrooms, while the two-story main cottage would have been gutted and rebuilt with five bedrooms and a kitchen. A one-story building was planned to be demolished and replaced by two separate structures.

In all, the footprint of the inn would have increased from 3,000 to 9,000 square feet.

It is unclear why the owners decided to give up the commission approval. Owner Eric Van Allen did not respond to a request for comment and his attorney, Jonathan Holter, said the owners did not wish to speak about the decision to surrender the DRI.

DRIs, which often place conditions on development, are allowed to be surrendered if no substantial work has gone on with a project.

The commission did not elaborate on why the DRI was being given up, but Ms. Malkin did give one potential reason why someone would surrender a DRI during a general discussion on the commission’s regulatory process.

“Suppose they wanted to sell it,” she said. “They don’t want it encumbered by our decision.”