By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The Select Board voted on Monday to oppose a developer’s latest plan to build a 55-and-older development on the Richardson Green property on upper Main Street.
Mirabeau Lane resident Richard Ripley submitted Article 4 on behalf of developer Angus Bruce for Fall Town Meeting, which will take place on Monday, Oct. 18, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Lynnfield Middle School auditorium. The citizens’ petition will request Fall Town Meeting to approve rezoning the 1425 Main St. property from Single Residence D to Elderly Housing.
Bruce told the Select Board that the project entails constructing 54 units on the Richardson Green property. He said one of the units would be an affordable unit that will be designated for a veteran.
There would be two points of egress.
While Bruce and the Richardson family have come to terms on a $2.7 million purchase and sale agreement for the 20-acre parcel, he noted that the town is currently considering buying Richardson Green by exercising its right of first refusal that is allowed under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 61.
“I have offered a developer’s agreement if the town decides not to buy the property,” said Bruce.
Bruce said the pact entails having him bringing in water from the Lynnfield Center Water District at the Main and Lowell Streets intersection into the project. He also said the agreement involves installing fire hydrants not only at the development, but along upper Main Street due to abutters’ concerns about having adequate fire protection in the area.
“I have offered to give the town a conservation easement of 10 acres,” continued Bruce. “The property consists of 20 acres. I am looking to give half of that back. I would give access to parking so people could access the trails in the back. I have offered five spaces, but that could be negotiated up.”
Bruce said the new 55-and-older development would generate over $800,000 in property tax revenue annually. He also agreed to give the town an “impact fee” of $20,000 per unit with the exception of the affordable one.
“That is $1,060,000 in revenue,” said Bruce. “There is also revenue that will be generated from building permits and excise taxes.”
Select Board member Phil Crawford noted that Bruce’s latest development pitch for the Richardson Green property is similar to his Woods of Lynnfield development that the 2019 Spring Town Meeting overwhelmingly rejected. He said Richardson Green should be protected and not developed.
“The town received a very large Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Grant from the state along with money we are going to get from Essex County Greenbelt and the Conservation Commission,” said Crawford. “We have gotten approval to use some of the stimulus money we got in order to bridge the gap. I believe that is where we are heading and that is what the town prefers to do. I am not going to endorse your project at this point.”
Select Board member Joe Connell agreed.
“I think we should go with saving the land by using the grant,” said Connell.
Select Board Chairman Dick Dalton concurred with Crawford and Connell’s viewpoints.
“I am impressed with the project’s economic benefits, but I think buying Richardson Green is an attractive opportunity for the town because it will be at no cost to the taxpayers,” said Dalton. “I did not think six months ago this grant would come to fruition, and I think it’s too good of an opportunity for the town to pass up on.”
When Bruce asked the Select Board for particulars about how the town would be able to finance the purchase Richardson Green, Dalton refused to provide him with any financial information.
“At this point, we are not going to enter into a discussion,” said Dalton.
Subsequently, the Select Board unanimously voted not to recommend Article 4 for Fall Town Meeting.
Bruce expressed disappointment in the Select Board’s decision.
“I am surprised,” said Bruce in an interview with the Villager. “If I lived in Lynnfield, I would be upset the town is going to spend so much money to buy a property without access to parking when I am willing to bring in water, provide fire protection for the end of town that doesn’t have it, give the town a significant amount money on a per unit basis and will be providing the town with long-term income.”
Essex County Greenbelt Association President Kate Bowditch recently announced that the plan for preserving Richardson Green involves having the land trust create, manage and maintain a “modest trailhead parking area, trails and directional signage.”
The Planning Board will be holding a public hearing about Article 4 on Wednesday, Oct. 13, beginning at 7 p.m. in the H. Joseph Maney Meeting Room at Town Hall.