Town Meeting Saturday

Oct 14, 2020 by

Posted on: Thursday, October 15, 2020

By DAN TOMASELLO

LYNNFIELD — While the COVID-19 virus pandemic forced the cancellation of outdoor fall traditions such as the high school football season, townspeople will have a reason to spend a few hours outdoors this Saturday by attending October Town Meeting.

Fall Town Meeting will take place on Saturday, Oct. 17, beginning at 4 p.m. at Lynnfield High School’s Pioneer Stadium. While Town Meeting traditionally has a 175-voter quorum requirement, the selectmen and Town Moderator Joe Markey recently agreed to reduce the quorum to 50 voters due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Similar to the Spring Town Meeting held this June, October Town Meeting will be utilizing a number of safety precautions in order to keep voters safe. Attendees will be required to wear masks, and the town will provide masks to people who do not have them. If a resident has a health condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, they are required to notify staff members when entering the high school parking lot.

Voters will check into Town Meeting while sitting in their vehicle at Lynnfield High’s drop-off area. Townspeople will be able to use hand sanitizer before they are directed to their seat on the football field. Attendees will be sitting 9-feet apart on the field.

Warrant breakdown

There are 10 articles appearing on the October Town Meeting warrant, which will be headlined by two articles submitted by the Board of Selectmen and two submitted by the Planning Board.

The Historical Commission requested the selectmen to submit Article 5, which would authorize the selectmen to take the old Joseph Smith house, 163 Lowell St., from Boston Clear Water Company by eminent domain. In a Letter to the Editor submitted to the Villager, Historical Commission Chairman Kirk Mansfield recalled that Virgil Lynnfield Properties, LLC applied for a demolition permit for Smith Farm this past spring.

“We at the Lynnfield Historical Commission were very confused because the former owners kept the house in pristine condition,” Mansfield stated. “The new owner would not provide us with any details on the future of the property after the demolition, which was alarming. The historic house has tremendous history and we do not want to see Lynnfield lose another historic home, particularly since there are only a few left. For obvious reasons, the Lynnfield Historical Commission voted to exercise its right to place a one-year delay on the demolition.”

While the Historical Commission voted to authorize the use of the Demolition Delay Bylaw (DDB) in order to hit the brakes on Virgil Lynnfield Properties, LLC’s request to raze Smith Farm for one-year as allowed by the bylaw, Mansfield said “a year doesn’t do much.”

“We at the Lynnfield Historical Commission take our responsibilities very seriously and couldn’t idly stand by,” Mansfield stated. “That being said, our commission recently voted to move forward with a recommendation for the town to take the property by eminent domain. We fully understand the town of Lynnfield is not, and should not be, in the business of real estate, but this is an exception. Much like the Centre Farm, we would like to see the property preserved and sold to someone who will appreciate and maintain its history.”

The selectmen also submitted Article 3, which will ask Town Meeting to authorize the Board of Selectmen to petition the State Legislature for the purpose of amending the Town Charter by changing the Board of Selectmen’s name to Select Board. Article 3 will also make gender-neutral changes such as changing chairman to chair.

Selectmen Chairman Chris Barrett made changing the board’s name one of his goals for the year.

The Planning Board submitted Articles 8 and 9. Article 8 is the Tree Protection Bylaw, which is a general bylaw that seeks to protect trees that are at least 6-inches in diameter along the perimeter of lots.

“Trees within these edges that are approved for removal may be replaced with new trees or with a payment to the Lynnfield Tree Replacement Fund,” Planning and Conservation Director Emilie Cademartori stated. “Protection would extend to these designated trees on any residential, commercial and industrial properties. There are exemptions for smaller lots.”

Concord, Lexington, Newton and Wellesley have similar bylaws that protect trees in those communities.

Article 9 is the Open Space and Residential Design (OSRD) Bylaw. Cademartori stated that the new bylaw would require developers to protect at least 50 percent of a land parcel as permanent open space. She also stated that the proposed zoning change seeks to protect a parcel’s natural resources.

“Home heights would not increase and there wouldn’t be any more homes than in a traditional development,” stated Cademartori. “Instead, developments would be arranged on smaller individual lots so the rest of the land could be left as undivided open space.”

Cademartori noted that developers can currently build conventional subdivisions in town that “do not preserve open space.”

“Under this proposal, OSRD subdivisions would be permitted but conventional subdivisions would require a Special Permit,” stated Cademartori.

Town meetings in Bellingham, Hopkinton, Ipswich, Newbury, Sherborn and Rowley have also approved OSRD bylaws.

The rest of Fall Town Meeting features mostly routine business.

Article 1 will ask townspeople to allocate funds in order to pay overdue bills. Article 2 will ask Town Meeting to appropriate transferring funds in the current fiscal year 2021 budget.

According to the warrant, Article 4 would extend the town’s agreement with the Reading Municipal Light Department until July 2040.

Article 7 will ask Town Meeting to authorize the town to sell nine parking spaces located off of Route 1 South to Loui’s Pizza and Roast Beef’s owners. The parking spaces are located on town-owned land.

“It will have conditions that no structure can be built there,” said Assistant Town Administrator Bob Curtin during a recent Board of Selectmen meeting. “It cannot be used to create a new lot to allow an additional building. We just got the appraiser’s value of it, so the minimum bid will be set at $98,000. The law requires that the minimum bid be set by an independent appraiser.”

American Legion Post 131 Commander Paul Donato submitted Article 10, which seeks to ensure that the new War Memorial being proposed remains on the Town Common. The selectmen approved a design for a new War Memorial in December 2017.

As part of War Memorial Committee Chairman Joe Connell’s proposed design, the new War Memorial would be constructed across the street from the Town Common on the green space adjacent to South Common Street. The existing memorial on the Town Common will remain in place.

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