Planners won’t back Woods of Lynnfield

Apr 25, 2019 by

Published April 24, 2019

By DAN TOMASELLO

LYNNFIELD — Developer Angus Bruce is planning to move ahead with the proposed Woods of Lynnfield elderly housing development at the April 29 Town Meeting even though the Planning Board voted not to recommend the project on April 16.

Attorney Jay Kimball submitted Article 16 on behalf of Bruce. Article 16 seeks to rezone a parcel of land located at 1414 Main St. from Residence D to Elderly Housing. If a two-thirds majority at Town Meeting supports 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.

“The Town Meeting action we are asking is to rezone a portion of land on upper Main Street containing 22.6 acres of land,” said Kimball. “Based on the size of the site, it could support 15 single-family house lots. Our proposal to rezone it would change the use but would keep it residential.”

Kimball told the Planning Board and the 16 residents in attendance that the Woods of Lynnfield would consist of 33 duplexes as part of a 55-and-over development. He said the 66 units will each have two bedrooms, and each unit will have a two-car garage. An affordable unit will be designated for a veteran.

Morin-Cameron Group principal owner/engineer John Morin said the proposed development would have two 14-foot wide access roads. He said a private road would serve as an entrance to the Woods of Lynnfield. He also said the development would have a state-of-the-art septic system.

While Morin said abutters would be able to see the duplexes’ rooftops from Main Street, he said the wooded area surrounding the development would prevent abutters from seeing the duplexes.

“Approximately 50 percent of the lot will not be cleared,” said Morin.

Northeast Geoscience Inc. principal owner Joel Frish said the development would have three wells that would serve as the Woods of Lynnfield’s water supply in addition to providing fire protection. He said the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has signed off on “site approval” for the three wells, which would be located in the middle of the development. Frish said MassDEP would oversee the wells, and said the development would be fined if it exceeds the 9,900 gallons allowed each day.

Frish said the three wells will be separate from the Lynnfield Center Water District.

“This development would use a modest amount of water,” said Frish. “This is a significantly smaller system.”

Planning Board member Katherine Flaws inquired if the development could use water from the MWRA instead of the three wells.

Bruce noted Peabody was previously looking to receive water from the MWRA but said the city nixed that project last year.

“I couldn’t get MWRA water even if I wanted to,” said Bruce.

Flaws inquired what would happen if the proposed wells would negatively affect the LCWD or abutters’ wells. Frish said MassDEP would most likely not approve the wells.

GPI traffic engineer Timothy Letton said a preliminary traffic study has been conducted in preparation of Town Meeting. If Town Meeting approves Article 16, Letton said a more comprehensive traffic study will be undertaken.

“We are estimating 390 trips a day,” said Letton. “Broken down in the weekday a.m. peak hour, we are estimating 10 in and 20 out. In the p.m. peak hour, we are estimating 21 in and 14 out. We are looking at increases of 15 to 18 vehicle trips per hour. That is the maximum during the peak hours.”

Letton said there were only two motor vehicle accidents that occurred adjacent to the property between 2012 and 2016.

“Both were single vehicle crashes,” said Letton. “One involved a deer and the other involved a utility pole.”

Letton said Police Chief David Breen was going to provide the development team with local accident data this week.

Bruce said the Woods of Lynnfield would generate $608,850 in tax revenue. He has also agreed to pay a betterment tax, which entails having the developer pay the town $10,000 per unit with the exception of the veteran’s unit. He said the development agreement would pay the town $650,000.

Additionally, Bruce said the project would be overseen by a condo association, which would be responsible for road maintenance, snow plowing and trash collection.

If Town Meeting approves Article 16, Bruce said the Planning Board would be required to issue a Special Permit. He also said the Fire Department needs to sign off on the project as well as MassDEP.

“I still have to go through all of the permitting requirements,” said Bruce.

Abutters blast project

Similar to other proposed developments in town, abutters repeatedly ripped the Woods of Lynnfield proposal.

Ken Peterson, 1477 Main St., urged the Planning Board and Town Meeting to reject Article 16.

“The traffic on upper Main Street is a very big concern to us,” said Peterson. “The mission statement of the Planning Board is to act on the behalf of townspeople as stewards of our safety. We are very concerned about changing the zoning on upper Main Street from single-family homes to this proposed mass housing development because upper Main Street has a history of crashes. Upper Main Street is a county road. We cannot regulate trucking on that road, and we have a lot of trucks driving on that road. Upper Main Street is one of the most dangerous roads in the state because it has double curvage.”

Main Street resident Ray Samora expressed concerns about an elderly resident being hit and killed by a truck driving on upper Main Street. He also expressed concerns that the development would lead to “extreme fire conditions and drought forests.”

“I vote no on Article 16,” said Samora.

Holly Ciampa, 2 Friendship Ln., said she “doesn’t know anyone who is 55 and retired.” She also inquired if college students would be allowed to live at the development.

Bruce said no.

Ciampa expressed concerns about motorists speeding in the area as well as truck traffic.

Bruce said he’s aware speeding is a problem on upper Main Street, and said he plans on installing radar signs near the development if the project gets approved.

“The police chief recommended them,” said Bruce. “I would put them in both directions. That should help a lot.”

Lauren Hurton, 1066 Main St., asked what would happen if Town Meeting rejects the project. Bruce said 15 homes would be built on the property, which would be located near the recently approved five-lot Janet Way subdivision Bruce is developing.

“It’s a lock,” said Bruce.

In response to a question from School Committee Chairman Jamie Hayman, Bruce said, “The reality of people moving out of their houses is not based on a new subdivision.”

“It’s a lifestyle decision, not a subdivision decision,” said Bruce. “There won’t be 66 people who live in Lynnfield who will sell their houses and decide to move in. We anticipate 10 to 12 residents will do that and the rest will come from different towns. They are going to move regardless. If this project doesn’t happen, they will move somewhere else. This project doesn’t promote the echo effect.”

John Thomas, 1385 Main St., said the proposed development would have a negative effect on the town.

“I can’t imagine what this is going to do to the character of Lynnfield,” said Thomas. “I personally don’t believe 15 houses would be worse. Having that amount of traffic coming out of (the development’s) driveway is insane.”

A Heather Drive resident said traffic in town has “really escalated since MarketStreet opened.” She said the proposed development would make the problem worse.

“We are a town, not a city,” said the woman. “You can’t expect to put a city in a small town.”

Bruce said there might be less than 66 units constructed after the permitting process is completed.

Planners oppose project

After residents finished commenting on the proposed project, Flaws made a motion not to recommend Article 16 to Town Meeting.

“I don’t think it fits,” said Flaws.

Planning Board Vice Chairman Michael Sheehan echoed Flaws’ concerns. He believes the traffic study is “underestimating” the amount of traffic the development would generate.

“It’s going to impact the people who live there,” said Sheehan.

Planning Board members Charlie Wills and Tom Wallace both noted single-family homes would also generate traffic.

“The alternative is by-right,” said Wills. “There is going to be some traffic in any event.”

While Planning Board Chairman Brian Charville said he originally supported the proposed development, he came out against Article 16 after listening to abutters’ concerns.

“I think this project would fill a gap that we have, but this is not the place to do it,” said Charville.

After the discussion, Charville, Flaws, Sheehan and Wallace voted not to recommend Article 16. Wills voted against the motion.

In an interview with the Villager, Kimball said Bruce plans to move forward with Article 16 at Town Meeting.

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