Published in the October 12, 2016 edition


LYNNFIELD — A quorum of 175 voters is necessary for the business of October Town Meeting to be considered on Monday night, Oct. 17. The bi-annual Town Meeting gets underway at 7:30 p.m. at the Lynnfield Middle School auditorium.

With just a dozen articles on the warrant, it would be tempting for voters to think that they could just sit this one out, but doing so would prevent the town from acting on important matters that affect everyone in the community.

Among the most important articles to be voted upon are proposed zoning changes under Article 6 and the transfer of nearly 150,000 square feet of land Reedy Meadow Golf Course from Board of Selectmen to the Board of Library Trustees under Article 5.

Passage of Article 6 would restrict the rental or leasing of single family homes in the town’s residential districts to not less than 30 days “unless specifically authorized by the Board of Appeals.”

Under the existing bylaw, the “regular renting of rooms or furnishing of tableboard in a dwelling by prearrangement to not more than five persons” is currently on the books as a “customary accessory use” in the town’s Single Residence A, B, C and D districts.

Article 6 would tighten the language of a “customary accessory use” to rental periods that are a minimum of at least 31 days while prohibiting rental periods of 30 days or less.

This change is being sought in the wake of the unsolved murder of Keivan Heath, 33, of Randolph over the Memorial Day weekend at a mansion on 8 Needham Road that had been rented for the holiday weekend by homeowner Alexander Styller using an online website such as Airbnb or HomeAway without the knowledge of the town that this type of commercial activity was taking place in a residential zone on a fairly regular basis.

A cease and desist order was issued by the building inspector to Styller, which remains under appeal before the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals. It was continued a second time to the ZBA’s November meeting. Styller indicated at the ZBA hearing that he would like to seek a special permit to continue short-term rentals of his home.

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.

Both articles were endorsed unanimously by the selectmen.

Library grant

The grant sought by the Board of Library Trustees to eventually build a new library in town is dependent upon the passage of Article 5, a procedural action necessary to transfer control of nearly 150,000 square of land at Reedy Meadow Golf Course to the trustees. This land was previously declared “surplus” to golf operations by the selectmen.

If the trustees cannot demonstrate that it controls the land upon which the proposed new library would be built to the Mass. Board of Library Commissioners, the town becomes ineligible to continue in the multi-year grant approval process. That grant would reimburse the town for an estimated 40 to 60 percent of the cost to build a new library.

Town officials have repeatedly stated that passage of Article 5 does not obligate the town to fund a new library. It does allow the town to continue along the path of determining what the cost of such a building would be and how much the town would receive in reimbursement funds. If a grant is eventually awarded, voters at a subsequent town meeting would determine if the grant should be accepted and proceed with the building project.

If a library is ultimately never built on Reedy Meadow, a similar warrant article would be put forward by the town to transfer control of the land back to the selectmen.

Articles 1 through 4 are housekeeping articles to enable the town to pay any overdue bills of a prior fiscal year, if necessary (Article 1), supplement current FY’17 accounts, if necessary (Article 2), appropriate $40,000 for improvements to school grounds and athletic facilities (Article 3) and transfer funds reserved to be used at the discretion of town boards, committees or officers (Article 4), if necessary.

Passage of Article 8 would allow the town to petition the legislature to require the MBTA to allow the town to maintain culverts under the railroad bed within Reedy Meadow at the town’s expense. This is being sought to help alleviate perpetual flooding issues in the vicinity of Perry Avenue neighborhood. The MBTA owns the land and wants to be held harmless in the event oil or other hazardous materials releases were to occur stemming from pre-existing conditions at the site that could be disturbed by such maintenance.

Article 9 would delete the $10 penalty for keeping unlicensed dogs in town after the March annual deadline and was proposed by the Town Clerk.

Article 10 seeks funds from the town for engineering services related to improvements sought under the town-wide recreational fields program.

Article 11 would allow the selectmen to establish speed limits of 25 mph or any roadway “inside a thickly settled or business district” provided the speed limit change is not done of a state highway.

Article 12 would allow the selectmen 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.