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Swampscott selectmen open to revising school zoning restrictions

SWAMPSCOTT – Selectmen are looking at ways to make the former middle school on Greenwood Avenue more attractive to developers after attempts to sell it have failed.Selectman Jill Sullivan, who is the liaison between the selectmen and Town Building Study Committee, said it is possible an article to remove some of the zoning restrictions on the Greenwood Avenue site could appear on the Town Meeting warrant. A similar article appeared on the Town Meeting warrant last spring and was defeated.The article asked Town Meeting to remove the restriction that requires any developer who purchases the property to retain and preserve the 1895 portion of the building. Sullivan said removing the restriction could make the parcel more attractive to developers.Selectman Richard Malagrifa said he would like to see surplus town properties sold as soon as possible.”But I don’t want to sell them at a huge loss just to unload them,” he said. “I would like to see the properties sold for a purpose that would generate maximum tax revenue for the town.”Malagrifa said he is concerned the preservation restrictions are making it hard to sell the properties.”I think the restrictions are discouraging developers,” he said. “The Greenwood Avenue location is a perfect spot for upscale condos, but a developer may not want to retain the 1895 part of the building. I am in favor of loosening the restrictions up a little.”Selectman David Van Dam said the last offer on the Greenwood Avenue property was for $400,000.”It’s a beautiful piece of property and it should have a much higher value than that,” he said. “I think requiring the historic portion be maintained limits the value of property. I think to maximize the value of that property we need to be strategic in our thinking and I am fine with taking the historic piece out and seeing what we get for offers.”Sylvia Belkin, who is a member of the Historical Commission and Planning Board, said she does not believe the restriction should be removed.”The building has great historical significance,” she said. “It stands on top of the hill like a beacon. It is an integral part of the cultural, architectural and social history of this community.”

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