Posted on: Friday, March 29, 2019
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Tensions ran high between Selectman Chris Barrett and Selectmen Chairman Dick Dalton following a March 26 discussion of the revised MarketStreet Lynnfield development agreement.
After Town Counsel Tom Mullen concluded an overview of the revised Planned Village Development District (PVDD) development agreement, Barrett requested having Police Chief David Breen weigh in on the proposed eight-screen, 800-seat cinema project that will be appearing as Article 14 on the April 29 Town Meeting warrant.
Dalton said Barrett’s request was “out of order.”
“We are dealing with the revisions regarding the MarketStreet agreement,” said Dalton.
Barrett responded by stating he wanted to hear from Breen before voting on the pact.
“I know the chief was on the MarketStreet Advisory Committee and provided a lot of input,” said Barrett. “As a selectman, I want to confirm that he has the same thoughts as he did eight months ago. He recommended that we delay action on (the theater) until the Lahey building is completed.”
Dalton maintained that Barrett was out of order.
“I rule that out of order based on the fact two meetings ago, we had the opportunity to make our positions quite clear,” said Dalton. “And we all did. That part of the discussion is closed.”
Dalton noted residents attended the board’s March 20 meeting, and said he “ruled that they would restrict their comments at that point to what was on the agenda.”
“And that was the language in the agreement,” Dalton continued. “And Anne Mitchell and Wally McKenzie adhered to that. We are now at the final vote on the development agreement.”
After Barrett’s request was denied, he ripped the proposed amended PVDD.
“As I stated before, and since day one, I fully support MarketStreet and greatly appreciate the strong partner they have been for the town of Lynnfield,” said Barrett. “Likewise, the town of Lynnfield has been a strong partner to help make sure MarketStreet continues to thrive and remain successful. When I was chairman of the Board of Selectmen, with the support of my fellow colleagues, we appointed the MarketStreet Advisory Committee. I proposed this committee because our board has long stressed process on any decision we make, especially of this magnitude.”
Barrett noted the MSAC finalized its report on June 28, 2018.
“It recommended that any decision on a cinema be delayed until we fully know what the impact of the Lahey development will be,” said Barrett. “Chief Breen, who I greatly respect and who sat on that committee, stands strong in his belief that we should delay any decision on a cinema until we know what the impact of the Lahey development will be. I support the chief, I support the findings of the committee and I support the Board of Selectmen’s strong emphasis on process and due diligence when we make any decision that impacts the town of Lynnfield.”
Barrett said his “vote against this agreement is not a vote against the cinema.”
“It is a vote to delay any decision we make until we have all of the facts, which we do not have, to make a fully informed decision,” said Barrett. “We need to follow a timeline that is good for Lynnfield and the surrounding neighborhoods. They deserve that much.”
After the discussion, the selectmen voted 2-1 to approve the amended PVDD. Dalton and Selectman Phil Crawford voted for the revised pact while Barrett voted no.
In a phone interview with the Villager, Barrett said he submitted a request to Town Administrator Rob Dolan that Breen appear before the board to answer questions.
Breen weighed in on National Development’s proposal to build a cinema in an email sent to the Villager.
“I co-authored the MarketStreet Advisory Committee’s subcommittee report on parking and traffic eight months ago,” said Breen. “In that report, several recommendations were made regarding a cinema build-out. I stand by those recommendations today.”
During a presentation to the selectmen last September, MSAC Chairwoman Jennifer Bayer noted the MSAC held a public hearing on the proposed cinema, and residents aired concerns about traffic, parking, public safety and the theater’s financial impact.
“Before considering and approving a theater, the committee recommends to first assess the impact of (the Lahey building) after it has been operational for one year,” said Bayer.
Bayer said the MSAC took no position on recommending whether a cinema be constructed at the outdoor mall.
Barrett forwarded the Villager an email sent to Dolan and Assistant Town Administrator Bob Curtin that requested public comment be added back onto the board’s agendas going forward. The selectmen did not have public comment at the board’s March 18 and 26 meetings, but did allow the public to speak during the March 20 meeting.
“I am making this official request both as a selectman and resident of Lynnfield,” Barrett wrote. “No resident should ever be silenced whether they are a selectman, chief of police or not. We serve the public and we should always provide them with the opportunity to bring their issues before us in a public manner. Also, please include this request in the April 9 Board of Selectmen’s packet that is available for review by all of the residents in the town of Lynnfield.”
Dalton informed the Villager on March 27 that he has yet to decide whether Barrett’s request will be an agenda item on April 9.