Plans for an exercise spa connected to a controversial South Water street home renovation have been scrapped after being reconsidered by the Edgartown historic district commission last month. 

Last week, civil engineer Douglas Hoehn told the town’s conservation commission that his client, real estate investor David Malm, will no longer be moving forward with the exercise spa at 81 South Water street. The decision to pull the amenity comes after several months of sparring between the applicant and Edgartown committees. 

Mr. Malm’s architects initially proposed a swimming pool at the home. That was denied by the historic district commission, which has jurisdiction over anything in view from a public way. The applicant later approached the conservation commission with an exercise spa, a water feature slightly smaller than a pool. 

The project returned to the historic district commission on Dec. 21, and commissioners voted 5-1 that the feature was still visible from a public way and would need further approval to move forward. Co-chairman Peter Rosbeck was the sole vote against. Seeking to continue apace with the home renovation, Mr. Hoehn at the Jan. 10 conservation meeting said they would not pursue either a pool or an exercise spa. 

The conservation commission went on to question the applicants on plans for a finished basement, concerned that the property, which lies within a federal flood zone and sits on top of wetlands, may flood easily. Peter Fletcher, another architect with the project, assured conservation agent Jane Varkonda that building would occur four feet above the groundwater level.

The property has also been flagged as an area of interest for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), although the tribe has not yet conducted its review. 

In the public comment portion of the hearing, resident Michael Hirschfeld said the property’s former longtime gardener, Lynne Irons, had found underground springs under the property that may compromise the project’s excavation plans. He mentioned an incident at 96 South Summer street in which builders hit a spring and flooded the area.

“The entire foundation became a mud bath,” Mr. Hirschfeld said. “If they’re excavating this really huge basement excavation...and they hit a spring the way they did at 96 South Summer street...this house is going to collapse into the mud.” 

Abutting neighbor Jane Bradbury said her property at 85 South Water street floods consistently, even without the hardscape planned at 81 South Water street.

Ms. Varkonda said the commission could look into whether the property contains a spring, but the commission also had concerns that the plans did not match up with what was initially approved by the historic district commission. Mr. Ahearn maintained that the plans were identical with what was approved, although Mr. Hoehn acknowledged the plans for window wells could account for the discrepancy.

Renovation plans have received pushback from neighbors since they first approached the historic district commission last spring. Initially, residents complained that the ambitious renovation plans would block one of the last public views of Edgartown harbor, prompting the applicant to significantly scale back the project to preserve the viewshed.

“I can’t recall a case in which a plan...had no public support,” neighbor Sarah Jane Hughes said. “This plan has pretty strong opposition.”

The hearing has been continued to Jan. 24.