Early review has begun on a plan by the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital to build a large new senior living and nursing home facility in Edgartown.
The new facility would be sited on 26 acres off the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, abutting Teaberry Lane and Hallsgate Way. If the plan can clear a gauntlet of regulatory hurdles, including the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and town land use boards, the facility would replace the Windemere Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Facility using a new design and model for nursing facilities.
The plan calls for eventually closing Windemere, which shares the hospital campus in Oak Bluffs and has been losing money and seen a dwindling number of residents for years.
The Edgartown planning board opened a public hearing on the plan in November and has had two sessions. A third hearing is set for Jan. 18.
At the second hearing held Dec. 7, Geoghan Coogan, a Vineyard Haven attorney who is representing the hospital, said the facility is critically needed.
“The demand is here, it’s real, and it’s necessary . . . we are forcing our own Island senior population to leave the Island to try to find a comfortable place to stay,” Mr. Coogan said, according to a recording of the meeting. “As all of our parents age and they want to stay on the Island, their options are just extremely limited. This is our best effort to keep them on [the] Island.”
The hospital bought the land in July from the family of Philip J. Norton. At the annual town meeting in May, Edgartown voters approved a zoning bylaw change to allow for the construction of the facility.
The project is still in the early stages. Review by the MVC will be mandatory, and there are unresolved wastewater issues.
But already neighbors are weighing in with objections to what they say is a commercial development that would disrupt the quiet residential area.
“The area is predominantly residential and placing this project where it is currently proposed would be geographically odd and disharmonious with the surrounding and neighboring community,” Teaberry Lane resident Robert Ianelli wrote in a letter to the planning board.
Increased traffic is another concern.
“It’s always been a very quiet residential area. The change that’s going to come from the traffic, flashing lights, sirens, will change all of that,” said abutter Larry DeFeo at the Dec. 7 hearing.
On Tuesday this week the planning board paused discussion and continued the hearing to January because two participating members, Scott Morgan and Glenn Searle, were not in attendance.
Board chairman Lucy Morrison said the plan will eventually be referred to the commission.
“We just want to do our own pretty thorough review before we send it [to the MVC],” Ms. Morrison said.
The development plan calls for 70 beds divided among five houses for elderly residents, according to the application. The houses would be developed in the Green House style, a model for elder care which seeks to create a residential environment with communal spaces. “Research conducted . . . has shown that this model of care results in an improved quality of life . . . and emotional well-being,” according to a market analysis of the project commissioned by the applicant.
The plan also calls for building 48 housing units with a total of 76 bedrooms on the site for support staff, medical and other workers. The work force housing is planned as a combination of townhouses and duplexes, according to the plan.
The hospital hopes to tie into the town sewer via the Morgan Woods housing pump station. An engineering report commissioned by the town found that pumps at both Morgan Woods and Vineyard Golf would need to be replaced in order to accommodate the excess flow.
The hospital has appeared before the wastewater commission about the project twice, according to available commission meeting minutes. Another meeting is set for Jan. 20.
The hospital is also exploring on-site septic disposal as an alternative, Mr. Coogan said.
“To answer the wastewater question . . . right now we don’t know. We’ve got parallel tracks working . . . to see which way we can go,” the attorney said. “We certainly know before we get any approvals or conditions to the project we’re going to have to solve the wastewater question.”