The nonprofit organization Smart Growth America defines the planning and development concept as a way to help “every town and city become a more economically prosperous, socially equitable and sustainable place to live.”
We believe that smart growth applies to three warrant articles that will be voted on during Fall Town Meeting, which takes place at 7 p.m. in the Lynnfield Middle School auditorium on Monday, Nov. 14. We urge Fall Town Meeting’s attendees to approve Articles 6, 7 and 8 because they will allow the town to move forward in a positive direction.
The $63.5 million public safety buildings and Town Hall project will be appearing as Article 8 on the Fall Town Meeting warrant. If Fall Town Meeting approves Article 8, a debt exclusion vote will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
As this newspaper stated in an editorial this past May, all three public safety buildings are a mess and it’s long overdue to make Town Hall compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The town’s first responders are putting their lives on the line to keep the community safe, and they deserve better working conditions. The status quo is unacceptable.
Articles 6 and 7 are related to the Sagamore Spring Golf Club over-55 development project, which requires a two-thirds vote for approval. While this newspaper has traditionally not taken positions on citizens’ petitions submitted by businesses and developers, we are endorsing both warrant articles because the alternative will have dire consequences for the town.
The decision Fall Town Meeting makes on Monday night will determine the golf course’s future. The choice is between building 66 detached homes as part of a private over-55 development or constructing 82 single-family homes. The status quo is not an option.
The Sagamore Spring Real Estate Trust should be commended for working the town and the Lynnfield Center Water District to create a plan with that will keep the very popular 18-hole golf course open. The trust and the Select Board recently agreed to a development agreement that will permanently protect 9.4 acres of land on the west side of the golf course that abuts the LCWD’s well fields. The trust has also agreed to a 25-year development restriction for the remaining areas of the course’s western side.
As part of a separate development agreement, the trust has agreed to give the LCWD an easement on the west size of the golf club that could be used as a long-term solution to treat PFAS. The LCWD component of the Sagamore project will also improve fire prevention efforts on upper Main Street because hydrants will be constructed.
In return, luxury development company Toll Brothers is looking to construct an over-55 development comprised of 66 detached units on the eastern portion of the golf course that is comprised of the driving range and adjacent undeveloped land.
After the 2018 Spring Town Meeting rejected a 154-unit over-55 townhouse development that was proposed for the golf course’s front nine, the trust could have closed the club and built 82 single-family homes on the property. Instead, the trust has spent the last four years working to create a scaled down plan as a part of a compromise that benefits the trust and the town.
It’s very simple folks. Take the deal.
If Fall Town Meeting rejects Articles 6 and 7, the trust will close the golf course and a developer will begin the process of getting an 82-lot subdivision approved. It’s not in the town’s best interest to have 82 six-bedroom homes with private wells, septic systems, leeching fields, roads and drainage systems constructed across the golf course. That would negatively impact the LCWD’s well fields, the Ipswich River Watershed and the town’s operating budget.
The 2007 Spring Town Meeting voted to allow MarketStreet Lynnfield to be built on the old Colonial Golf Club because the alternative was a massive apartment complex. The choice facing Fall Town Meeting is similar.
Rejecting Articles 6, 7 and 8 would be an absolute disaster for the town. We strongly urge Fall Town Meeting to vote yes for smart growth and approve all three warrant articles.