SELECT BOARD CHAIR Dick Dalton (left) and Select Board member Phil Crawford congratulate newly elected Select Board member Alexis Leahy during a reorganizational meeting on April 9. (Dan Tomasello Photo)


LYNNFIELD — Complying with the MBTA Communities law and renovating the Lynnfield Public Library are going to be two priorities for the Select Board this year, Chair Dick Dalton said during an April 9 meeting.

The Select Board unanimously voted to appoint Dalton as chair during a brief reorganizational meeting after the results from the Town Election were announced. He thanked Select Board members Phil Crawford and Alexis Leahy for appointing him as chair.

“It’s a privilege,” said Dalton. “I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Dalton has begun working on the Select Board’s goals for the upcoming year with Town Administrator Rob Dolan.

He urged Crawford and Leahy to share any goals “they see fit for this upcoming year” with Dolan.

“There are two premises our goals will be based on,” said Dalton. “One is going to be collaboration and the other is going to be community engagement.”

Dalton said the Select Board had “a very good working relationship with the School Committee” over the past year. He said he wants that tradition to continue with the new school board.

“We collaborated on the budget,” said Dalton. “I think at the end of the day, we came out with a very good work product where we satisfied the needs of the school district as well as the town. We produced a very responsible budget. This past year, the budget was challenging and next year promises to be even more challenging. Collaboration will again have to be at that the forefront of our thinking.”

Dalton said improving community engagement will be another focus area for the Select Board.

“As a board, we are going to try and do better with communicating with our constituents and taking input from them,” said Dalton. “What I would like to see this coming year is a real attempt at putting together a social media program. We have talked about it in the past, but it has never come to fruition. I think communicating with the public is an important part of our responsibility. I think there will be a lot more public forums this year due to the issues facing us. We are going to be dealing with some difficult issues that will really require the voters to be well-informed to make some very important decisions.”

Dalton said “one of the most important” issues that will be facing the town this year is complying with the MBTA Communities law. Former Gov. Charlie Baker signed an economic development bill into law in February 2021, which amended the state Zoning Act, by requiring MBTA communities to have at least one zoning district of reasonable size in which multifamily housing is permitted as of right. While the town does not have an MBTA station, the law classifies Lynnfield as an “MBTA adjacent community” because the town borders municipalities with MBTA stations such as Lynn, Peabody, Reading and Wakefield.

“The state is mandating that we make changes to the zoning since we are an MBTA community,” said Dalton. “We are one of 177 communities that has been designated as such. It calls on us to make plans for affordable housing. If you have read about it in the paper, especially in the town of Milton, it has been a very divisive issue. It has been litigated, and the Supreme Judicial Court will be taking it up in October.”

Dalton said the town has until Dec. 31 to comply with the law by establishing a multifamily zoning district. Lynnfield is currently classified as being in “interim compliance” after Planning and Conservation Director Emilie Cademartori submitted an action plan to the state early last year.

“We need to have a plan to submit to the state to stay in compliance with the law by the end of the calendar year,” said Dalton. “That is going to take a lot of work, a lot of meetings and a lot of good thinking. We have already established a working group, and are collaborating with the Planning Board, Conservation Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals. We are going to bring a number of people with certain expertise to the table so we can come up with a plan that we can submit to the state that will put us in compliance, but on the other hand will protect the character of the town. That is why I think it is so important. If this is not handled correctly, this can have a really negative impact on the town.”

Dalton also said the Lynnfield Public Library needs to be renovated.

“The new library that was proposed was very expensive and had a design that did not fit with the character of this town,” said Dalton. “We are in the process of coming forward with a plan that will renovate our existing library. The existing building is in dire need of just basic repairs and upgrades, and making it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which it isn’t at this point.”

Dalton also said he would like to “reimagine the roles of the Senior Center and the Recreation Commission.”

“If you look at the amount of time the Senior Center is used, it really is a building that has a lot of potential where we could develop programs that would be self-sustaining,” said Dalton. “I think we will end up meeting with members of the Rec Commission and the Council on Aging Board of Directors to come up with a plan where we can really utilize that building and expand some programs to offer some things that will impact people of all ages.”

Dalton said he “welcomes” input from residents on the different issues facing the town.

“I am looking forward to the year ahead,” said Dalton. “I know that working together, we can get some really good things done.”