TM nixes elderly housing project

May 2, 2019 by

Published May 1, 2019


LYNNFIELD — Town Meeting overwhelmingly rejected the proposed Woods of Lynnfield elderly housing development on Monday night.

Attorney Jay Kimball submitted Article 16 on behalf of developer Angus Bruce. Article 16 sought to rezone a parcel of land located at 1414 Main St. from Residence D to Elderly Housing. If Town Meeting supported the proposed zoning change, Kimball said Bruce would request a Special Permit from the Planning Board in order to construct the Woods of Lynnfield development.

Kimball said Bruce reduced the proposed number of units in the development from 66 to 56 after listening to concerns from abutters and the Planning Board. He said the development would go through a “lengthy permitting process” that would be reviewed by the Planning Board.

“The article would change the housing use,” said Kimball. “Nothing more.”

Kimball told the 485 voters in attendance that the 56 units will each have two bedrooms and a two-car garage. A condo association would oversee the development and three wells that would be monitored by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection would provide water and fire prevention.

If the development does not get constructed, Kimball said 15 single-family homes would be built on the 22.6-acre property.

“Each of the lots could support a six-bedroom home,” said Kimball.

Bruce noted children would be prohibited from living at the Woods of Lynnfield. He said up to 40 children could live in the 15 single-family homes.

After the development team finished giving an overview of the proposed project, Main Street resident Ken Peterson urged Town Meeting to vote no on Article 16, which he called a “detrimental zoning change.” He said the project would create more traffic in the area and lead to more accidents.

“Upper Main Street is as dangerous as ever,” said Peterson. “Two cars per unit plus one visitor would add 132 or more additional cars, which would create more congestion.”

Peterson also expressed concerns that the Woods of Lynnfield development would negatively affect abutters’ wells. He also said approving Article 16 would enable developer Ron Bonvie to resurrect dormant plans to rezone the Sagamore Spring Golf Club once again, which the 2018 Annual Town Meeting rejected.

“We must vote no to stop this nonsense,” said Peterson. “This is a dangerous proposition.”

Police Chief David Breen said there were 18 accidents that occurred on that portion of upper Main Street from 2014-2018.

“Several of those accidents were deer strikes and some of those were slick roads where a vehicle struck the guardrail,” said Breen.

Fire Chief Glenn Davis said the Fire Department had concerns about the development’s originally proposed entrance and exit. However, he said Bruce agreed to revise plans in order to provide a “secondary means of access and egress.” Davis also said the development’s water cisterns would improve fire prevention in the area.

“Approximately 60,000 gallons of water would be stored on site,” said Davis.

While the Planning Board voted not to recommend Article 16, Board of Selectmen Chairman Phil Crawford noted the selectmen unanimously backed the Woods of Lynnfield project.

“At the end of the day, what we are looking at is do we want to have 15 five-bedroom homes or do we want to have a 55-and-over elderly housing development in town,” said Crawford. “It’s not elderly housing or nothing. It’s elderly housing or 15 new homes. There are a lot of expenses for a 15-lot subdivision. With elderly housing, there wouldn’t be any trash pickup or plowing. They would take care of their own streets. The biggest impact would be on the schools. If you bring in 20 to 30 children on the conservative side, there is going to be an impact on the Summer Street School. If we add another 15 homes to the Summer Street School, we are going to be looking at a large override to expand the school system.”

Finance Committee Chairman Chris Mattia said the FinCom endorsed Article 16 because new growth is continuing to trend downward to the pre-MarketStreet levels, which could lead to a Proposition 2 1/2 override down the road.

Finance Committee member Bob Priestley agreed.

“In order to maintain Lynnfield’s financial stability, we have to be more receptive to revenue-positive development opportunities as they arise such as this one,” said Priestley.

While the School Committee did not take a position on Article 16, School Committee Chairman Jamie Hayman noted both elementary schools “are rapidly approaching capacity.” He said the addition of 40 children to Summer Street School would “materially alter” the elementary school.

“The influx of students would exacerbate existing issues,” said Hayman.

Residents weigh in

Main Street resident Ray Samora expressed concerns that sewage from the elderly housing development would get into abutters’ wells.

“The Lynnfield Center Water District has enough problems,” said Samora. “Why do we want to make it worse?”

Munroe Street resident David Kulakowski said the proposed development raises the question of “What do you want the town to look like?”

“This is a pretty dense development,” said Kulakowski. “I have friends who live on upper Main Street. It’s a pretty tough area. Zoning is done for the good of the town. How could 150 cars a day be less intrusive than 75 or 80 cars?”

Ashley Court resident Andrea Paciello took issue with local officials raising concerns about adding more children to the school district.

“To me, it indicates a real bias about adding more children in town,” said Paciello. “I think that perspective is a sad commentary on our town and perhaps humankind. I for one would welcome children and the next generation to live, thrive and learn in Lynnfield. This decision is not exclusively a financial one. It’s about quality of life. I don’t think adding 56 units add to that quality of life. I would prefer 15 homes and 15 families.”

Charing Cross resident Bob Prosperi said the development would enable residents looking to downsize to stay in town. He also recalled that Town Meeting rejected Herb Chambers’ proposal to expand the dealership’s parking lot, which led to the Lynnfield Commons apartment building getting constructed.

“I urge you to vote for this project,” said Prosperi.

Norris Road resident Sherry Angeloni said the Woods of Lynnfield would cause more traffic in town.

“Lynnfield is about homes,” said Angeloni. “You cannot tell me that 15 houses is going to add more traffic to Main Street than 56 units. The math just doesn’t work.”

Kimberly Terrace resident Debra DiMattia said the development’s abutters “paid a premium to live in this town.”

“It’s completely unfair to change the zoning on them when they thought they were moving into a residential single-family zone,” said DiMattia. “Once you give up the zoning that is there, you have given up all control of the aesthetic of this town. If you don’t want your neighborhood rezoned some day, don’t do it to the neighbors on Main Street.”

The change in zoning would have required a two-thirds Town Meeting majority to approve it. After the discussion, 340 residents voted against Article 16 while 174 voted for it, a decisive defeat.

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