The West Tisbury planning board approved a long-planned affordable housing development at 401 State Road on Monday, one of the project’s final regulatory hurdles.

First approved by town voters in 2021, the project would develop nine affordable rental units for Islanders older than 60 on a wooded lot on the corner of State Road and Lambert’s Cove Road.

The additional housing will help boost the amount of affordable housing in West Tisbury, which currently has one of the lowest rates of affordable housing on the Vineyard.

The planning board deferred action on the 401 State Road project at a meeting last month, asking nonprofit developer Island Housing Trust (IHT) and designer Union Architects to return with more details on a landscaping plan, traffic management and the impact on groundwater. 

“At the end of our last meeting, we thought it’s a really good project. But we had… just three concerns,” said board chair Leah Smith. 

The board voted unanimously in favor of the project, which will now go before the town board of health. 

IHT project director Keith McGuire presented recent changes made to the plan, including bringing the buildings away from the property’s edge, fleshing out their landscape plan and changing the location of a cistern for firefighting. 

Mr. McGuire said the group also got expert opinions on the impact of a new well from Island Water Source well drilling company co-owners Dave Schwoch and Jacqueline Noël. 

“We have encountered no circumstances under which a new well has caused the failure of neighboring wells either in this area or on the island as a whole” they wrote, in a letter to IHT. “We don’t expect any difficulties should any arise.”

Mr. McGuire also discussed the decision to put the entrance to the development on Lambert’s Cove Road, rather than State Road. The choice was made in consultation with the town’s highway superintendent Richard Olson.  

“I might not be very popular with my neighbors, but I do tend to agree that the Lambert’s Cove entry is best suited for this,” said planning board member Matt Merry, who also lives on Lambert’s Cove Road. 

Board members, project planners and nearby residents discussed the project extensively on Monday, at a public hearing which lasted more than an hour. 

The project has faced setbacks since it was first proposed. The initial project designer South Mountain Co. pulled out of the project in November 2022, citing dysfunction on the town affordable housing committee. That withdrawal prompted a shakeup of membership on the housing committee.

Affordable housing committee member Jefrey DuBard urged the planning board to approve the plan, now in development for more than two years.

“There are nine homes for nine households of people who are currently insecure,” he said. “I hope that we keep that in context when abutters and people around it are worried about the impact on their homes, some of which are just seasonal.”