Published in the June 17, 2015 edition


LYNNFIELD — A change in the minimum age requirement to purchase a unit in one of the town’s three LIFE villages for elders from 60 to 58 was approved by the selectmen Monday night by a 2-1 vote.

The reduction in eligibility of five years, from 60 down to 55, had been requested by the LIFE Board of Directors to better position them to sell the three remaining townhouses at the new Colonial Village at MarketStreet.

It was also requested due to the difficulty they have in selling second-floor units at Center Village as those come back on the market. Second floor units are not as popular among those on currently on the wait list due to the stairs, according to LIFE Board of Directors President Joe Maney.

Maney told the selectmen that his board unanimously approved this change, but any bylaw changes they make must also be approved by the selectmen to become effective.

The age change was also endorsed by the residents of the villages, pointed out board member Jack Adelson.

Maney said there are 388 people currently on the wait list and their preferences for particular units or villages are listed on their application. They are contacted by Dave Mayerson when preferred units come up for sale. Maney said they also advertise the units through local weekly newspapers and the Lynn Item.

Out of the 48 units at Colonial Village, Maney said all 12 townhouse sold the very first day they went on the market and all of the end units sold the second day they came on the market. The three remaining units are middle units, which are the most difficult to sell and there are currently no takers on the existing list, he said.

Residents and those who have relatives who live in town are eligible to apply to be put on the wait list younger than age 60, but they are currently ineligible to buy into a village unit until they hit the minimum age. Maney himself has been on list since 1992, he said.

The selectmen wanted to take a more gradual approach to any changes made to the bylaws. Selectmen Chairman Phil Crawford suggested the board comb through the existing list to see how many people are currently 58 and 59 to see if there would be any interest, prior to expanding it out by five years and possibly swelling the list to 700 people.

Selectman Tom Terranova suggested a less “global” change to deal only with the hard to sell units. “Here is my concern. It seems LIFE was created for the benefit of Lynnfield residents and it seems we are drifting away from that,” Terranova said, “so instead of drifting too far away we can be a little more lenient with rules and regulations, lower age and lower residency; however, the more favorable units are able to go to those who have given back to the town.”

Maney said the board had also approved reducing the residency requirement from two years to one year and pointed out that the two-year minimum residency requirement is only stated on the application, not in the LIFE bylaws.

None of the selectmen were overly keen on relaxing the residency requirement unless absolutely necessary.

Maney said they could always change the bylaw again after these difficult to sell units were sold. He said the debt is paid off but about $1 million has been spent on the units that are not making any money.

“If you approved it to 58 tonight that would give us a running start,” Maney said, adding that any new residents who signed up “would go to the bottom of the list; they would not jump ahead.”

Crawford said he’d be willing to do that. “I would like to keep the residency at two years. The intent of the whole LIFE project was for people who were downsizing.”

Selectman Chris Barrett favored opening up the list to those aged 58 or even 57.

Terranova requested that they hold off on making a change for one month and have the LIFE board report back to them in July after they had sent out letters to the current people on the list and also reviewed the list for any potentially younger buyers at age 58 or 59. “I’d like to get input from people on list to see at what age these units would move,” he said, before doing something more dramatic.

Resident Patricia Campbell said she has been on the wait list but has not been contacted about available units. “I think you need more outreach to those on the list,” she said.

Maney said those on the wait list also may call Dave Mayerson at 781-334-6066 to discuss their interest in seeing available units. “He’ll arrange a visit and graciously accept your down payment,” Maney said.

The motion to lower the age to 58 passed 2-1 with Terranova opposed.