By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — It’s almost showtime.
After a month-long delay, Fall Town Meeting will finally commence on Monday, Nov. 14, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Lynnfield Middle School auditorium. Similar to previous Town Meetings, a quorum of 175 voters is needed for the meeting to proceed.
Registered voters will be able to begin checking into Town Meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday. Electronic voting will be used at Fall Town Meeting once again.
Lynnfield Recreation will also be providing childcare for the parents and guardians who will be attending Fall Town Meeting. Parents and guardians can sign up for the childcare program by visiting https://lynnfieldma.myrec.com/info/default.aspx.
Article 8, which pertains to the $63.5 million public safety buildings and Town Hall project, headlines the Fall Town Meeting warrant. The project entails constructing a new Fire Headquarters that would have four bays and would be three-stories next to the existing South Station. The project also involves renovating and expanding the Police Station, the current Fire Headquarters and Town Hall.
The Town Hall component of the project will make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by installing an elevator. A new meeting room will also be built in the Town Hall addition for municipal boards and community groups to use.
If Fall Town Meeting approves Article 8 by a two-thirds vote on Nov. 14, a debt exclusion vote will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 6. If voters approve the public safety buildings project, the average tax impact on an average home valued at $816,964 would be $385 annually.
The Select Board unanimously voted to support Article 8 during Monday night’s meeting.
“This is a much needed project in town,” said Select Board Chairman Phil Crawford. “The timing is absolutely perfect for this to move forward now. This is one of the most important projects we have done in years.”
The Finance Committee voted 9-1 to recommend the public safety buildings and Town Hall project during Monday’s meeting. Finance Committee member Stephen Riley voted against recommending the project.
Articles 6 and 7 pertain to the Sagamore Spring Golf Club over-55 development project. The Sagamore Spring Real Estate Trust and luxury development company Toll Brothers have come to terms on a purchase-and-sale agreement that would allow the firm to construct 66 detached two-bedroom homes as part of an over-55 development on 36 acres on the golf club’s eastern side that encompasses the driving range and adjacent undeveloped land near the first and second fairways. The proposed development would also include a clubhouse containing an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center and a common area for residents to use.
The trust is looking to keep the 18-hole golf course as part of the plan. The trust and Select Board recently agreed to a development agreement that includes donating 9.4 acres of land to the town. The land is located on the golf course’s western side that abuts the Lynnfield Center Water District’s well fields. The trust has also agreed to a 25-year development restriction for the remaining areas of the golf course’s western side.
As part of a separate development agreement, the trust has agreed to give the Lynnfield Center Water District an easement on the west size of the golf course.
The Select Board is sponsoring Article 6 on behalf of the trust. Article 6 seeks to update the Zoning Bylaw’s definition for an Elderly Housing (EH) District to allow detached units and amenities such as a clubhouse. Sagamore Spring Real Estate Trustee Richard Luff submitted Article 7 as a citizens’ petition, which seeks to rezone the eastern side of the golf course from Residence D to Elderly Housing.
A two-thirds vote will be required for Articles 6 and 7 to move forward. If both warrant articles are rejected, the trust will close the golf course and will be looking to have 82 homes built across the property.
The Select Board unanimously voted to recommend Articles 6 and 7.
“I think this is an important and worthwhile project for the town,” said Crawford. “It’s by far a much better project for us to consider than the alternative. It’s the prudent thing to do because the owners of the golf course are trying to do the right thing for them and the town.”
The Finance Committee also unanimously voted during Monday’s meting to recommend the Sagamore over-55 development project.
Additional warrant articles
The Select Board unanimously voted to recommend the remaining 10 articles on the Fall Town Meeting warrant.
Assistant Town Administrator Bob Curtin recalled that Article 1 would have requested Fall Town Meeting to pay any overdue bills from a prior fiscal year, but he said there are no overdue bills to pay. As a result, the Select Board voted to recommend indefinitely postponing Article 1.
Article 2 will ask Town Meeting to vote to transfer $251,216 to supplement certain accounts in the town’s current fiscal year 2023 operating budget.
“They are all coming from line items where we have expected surpluses or offsets,” said Curtin. “It only requires the use of $25,000 from Free Cash.”
Curtin noted that that Article 2 includes transferring $75,000 to the Select Board’s Other Professional Services account that would be used for design services related to a Massachusetts Department of Transportation Complete Streets grant request that will seek to overhaul the Summer and Salem streets intersection.
“We are also moving $175,000 into police patrolmen overtime because we have two vacancies,” said Curtin.
Curtin said Article 3 will request Fall Town Meeting to approve transferring funds from the Golf Enterprise Account’s retained earnings to the town’s FY23 capital budget for the purpose of purchasing a Groundmaster 4700 Rough Cut Mower and a Workman HDX-4WD vehicle for the town’s two golf courses.
“We had already appropriated the capital budget, but we are running short due to the increasing prices of vehicles,” said Curtin. “We are looking to add $15,910 for the rough cut mower and $5,881 for the Workman HDX-4WD vehicle.”
Article 4 will ask Town Meeting to use $100,000 from Free Cash to upgrade the public safety fiber optic network.
“This will leverage a $250,000 state grant that we received,” said Curtin.
Curtin said Article 5 will request Fall Town Meeting to appropriate $75,000 from Free Cash to repair Lynnfield High School’s septic treatment system.
“This repair is badly needed,” said Curtin.
According to the warrant, Article 9 will ask Fall Town Meeting to authorize the Select Board to enter into a lease agreement with the United States Postal Service for the rental of the Salem Street Post Office. While the current lease expires in 2026, town officials want to develop a long-term lease with U.S. Postal Service in the event a new Fire Headquarters is constructed next to South Station.
Fall Town Meeting will also be asked to approve Article 10, which seeks to appropriate $900,000 for the purpose of constructing a clubhouse for the King Rail Reserve Golf Course (see separate story).
The Select Board submitted Article 11 on behalf of the Health Department. Curtin said the warrant article would revise the General Bylaws’ section relating to Board of Health fees and would remove old smoking bylaws that are now obsolete.
“All of the fees listed would be deleted because the Board of Health is empowered under state law to maintain its own fee structure,” said Curtin. “It also deletes two sections related to smoking regulations that predate the bans for smoking in public places such as restaurants.”
Article 12 was submitted by the Planning Board, which seeks to update the town’s Scenic Roads Bylaw.
“Most of the changes are just clarifications,” said Curtin. “It doesn’t expand the town’s powers and doesn’t infringe on anyone’s private property.”
The Conservation Commission submitted Article 13. Curtin said the warrant article will ask Fall Town Meeting to petition the State Legislature to approve changes to the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act that would allow the Conservation Commission to have alternate members similar to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“This would ensure that nothing went on the rocks if we had resignations, people had conflicts or were out sick,” said Curtin. “This would move along any project proposed by a resident or a local land owner so we can act on it promptly.”
Crawford said Article 13 is “needed.”
“It’s a great idea,” said Crawford.