Published in the October 19, 2016 edition
By MARK SARDELLA
LYNNFIELD – Articles 5 and 6, the two articles expected to generate the most discussion at Town meeting, lived up to their billing Monday night.
Both articles were approved by Town Meeting by wide margins, but when a quorum challenge shortly after 9 p.m. revealed that there was no longer a quorum in the hall, Town Meeting had to be suspended until Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. Town Counsel Thomas Mullen said after adjournment that he believed that a motion to reconsider any article passed Monday night would be in order at Thursday’s reconvened Town Meeting.
Article 5, to transfer a parcel of land at 175 Summer St. to the Board of Library Trustees to enable them to apply for state funding toward building a new library on the site, passed by a wide margin in excess of the two-thirds majority required.
Similarly, Article 6, which sought to amend the town’s Zoning Bylaw to prohibit the rental or leasing of a home in the residential district for a period of 30 days or less, also passed with well over the required two-thirds majority.
However, seconds after Town Moderator Arthur Bourque announced the result of the hand-counted voted on Article 6, Bob Miller of Fernway challenged whether there was still a quorum of 175 voters in the Middle School Auditorium.
Bourque stressed that any vote taken before the challenge would stand as valid. He then called upon the tellers to count the number of voters in the auditorium. There were 166, nine short of the quorum requirement of 175, so Bourque declared the meeting suspended until Thursday night.
Under the discussion of Article 5, Bob Whalen of Keniston Road said that his concern was that the Board of Library Trustees could retain the land indefinitely even if the town did not go ahead and build a new library. Katy Shea of Daventry Court wanted to know what the time frame would be for securing financing for a new library before the selectmen could take back control of the land.
Whalen said that his concerns were alleviated when Selectman Phil Crawford proposed an amendment that the land would revert to the town if Town Meeting does not approve construction of a library on the site within five years.
Harry Lecours of Partridge Lane made a motion to indefinitely postpone the article, saying Town Meeting could revisit it at the April Town Meeting after some outstanding questions were answered.
Lecours disputed the claim that the land was no longer needed as a golf course. He said that by giving it over to the library, the town would lose the practice range and be forced to end the “First Tee” golf program, which teaches values to kids through golf.
Lecours acknowledged that there were problems at the current library location with roof issues, water damage and lack of parking, but said that voters should know what the cost of repairing the current building would be before agreeing to transfer the land in question to build a new library.
Patricia Campbell of Patrice Lane said she concurred with Lecours that Article 5 should be indefinitely postponed.
Jeff Langill of Essex Street pointed out that the transfer of land was nothing more than a measure to fulfill the state funding application requirement that the Library Trustees have control of the land upon which a new library would be built. If Article 5 were to be indefinitely postponed, he said, the town would not be able to apply for the funds and some other town would get the state money.
A resident moved the question on Lecours’ motion for indefinite postponement. After the motion for indefinite postponement failed, Bourque called for a vote on the main motion under Article 5.
Article 5 carried with 161 “Yes” votes, well over the 114 needed for the required two-thirds majority.
Article 6 sought to amend a Zoning Bylaws to prohibit leasing or rental of a home in the single residence district for less than 30 days. The change was being sought in the wake of the unsolved murder of a Randolph man at a mansion at 8 Needham Rd. that had been rented for a party over last Memorial day weekend using an online site such as Airbnb or HomeAway.
Language originally in Article 6 that would have allowed such short term rentals with a Special Permit from the Board of Appeals was removed when the motion was made on the Town Meeting floor.
Burt Beaulieu of Carol Ann Road said that he was past president of the North Shore Association of Realtors. He argued that the ability to use one’s property for income purposes was a basic right. Excluding short-term renters, he said, would be discriminatory and convey an image of Lynnfield as “anti-tourist.”
Beaulieu noted that the state was likely to address Airbnb-type rentals in the upcoming legislative session. He urged waiting and allowing the state to settle the issue.
Wayne Perry of Trickett Road cautioned against waiting for the state to address any issue.
Bob Miller of Fernway acknowledged the issue that led to Article 6, but maintained that the measure would do little to curb those types of parties. He said that other regulations on the books were enough to deal with out-of-control house parties. He said that the changes under Article 6 would tend to brand a short-term renter as undesirable.
“I certainly don’t want to brand Lynnfield as being xenophobic in any way,” Miller said. He said that property owners should be free to do what they want with their property. He said that his experience with Airbnb situations had been positive and renters are well-vetted beforehand.
Stacy Cook of Alderney Way said that the home on Needham Road is not being used as a residence but is just being rented out for video shoots and parties “that rage on all night long.” She said that such use was “unacceptable” in a residential neighborhood.
Town Administrator Jim Boudreau maintained that it was the opinion of the Building Inspector and Town Counsel that such short-term rentals were already prohibited by the town’s Zoning Bylaws. Article 6, he said, was simply an effort to make that absolutely clear.
Town Counsel Thomas Mullen said that the town’s Zoning Bylaws reference the definitions in the International Building Code which define “transient uses” as not allowed in single-residence zoning districts. He said that the purpose of the amendment proposed in Article 6 was an effort to spell that out in the bylaw and prevent frequent turnover of occupants and disruptive hotel-type uses of single residence properties.
Ellen Crawford of Durham Drive urged a “Yes” vote on Article 6, arguing that incidents like the one on Needham Road hurt Lynnfield property values.
After a motion to move the question carried, Bourque called for a vote on the main motion under Article 6. As a zoning article, a two-thirds majority was required. After the tellers counted the votes, Bourque announced that Article 6 had passed with 152 “Yes” votes, well over the 107 needed for the two-thirds majority.
Other completed TM business
In other business Monday night, Town Meeting voted under Article 1 to raise and appropriate by the transfer of available funds $1,871.11 to pay bills left over from the prior fiscal year.
Under Article 2 Town Meeting voted unanimously to raise and appropriate $112,098 and to transfer from available funds $297,795 to balance the FY 2017 budget. There was no discussion from the floor on Article 2.
After a brief discussion, Town meeting voted unanimously under Article 3 to raise and appropriate $40,000 for improvements to school grounds and athletic facilities.
After a brief discussion, Town Meeting voters unanimously approved Article 4, to transfer from insurance funds $49,409 to repair the DPW garage and to repair or replace DPW equipment.
Six articles remain
Provided a quorum is achieved, Town Meeting will resume on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Middle School auditorium.
Action remains to be taken on the final six warrant articles.
Article 7 asks voters to increase the daily fine issued to those who violate any of the town’s zoning bylaws to $300 per day, up from the current $100 fine per day, which has not been increased since 1977.
Article 8 seeks to allow the town to petition the state Legislature to require the MBTA to allow the town to maintain culverts under the railroad bed within Reedy Meadow at the town’s expense to help alleviate perpetual flooding issues in the vicinity of Perry Avenue neighborhood.
Article 9, proposed by the Town Clerk, seeks to delete the $10 penalty for keeping unlicensed dogs in town after the March annual deadline.
Article 10 seeks funds from the town for engineering services related to improvements sought under the town-wide recreational fields program.
Article 11 seeks to allow the selectmen to establish speed limits of 25 mph or any roadway “inside a thickly settled or business district” provided the change is not done on a state highway.
Article 12 would allow the selectmen the authority to designate certain roadways as “safety zones” with posted speed limits of 20 mph or less on any way that is not a state highway.