LYNNFIELD — Patrons of the Bali Hai can breathe a sigh of relief.
A proposal to replace the 277-seat Polynesian restaurant with two dozen luxury apartments was rejected by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) late Tuesday.
“We were disappointed that we did not receive the unanimous vote of the ZBA,” said Ted Regnante, the attorney for Lynnfield twins Matthew and David Palumbo, who had hoped to redevelop the eating place on Moulton Road. “My clients are exploring their options, including whether to appeal the decision to the Land Court.”
The project faced giant hurdles from the start. With the exception of one neighbor, Oak Street resident Mohammad Saeed, who attended one of the public hearings last summer to support the apartments, neighbors were united in opposition.
Many said they prefer the underused restaurant to more cars clogging what they called an already congested section of town. Others said they feared the influx of school children.
Last summer, the Palumbos proposed a three-story building with 32 luxury apartments priced from $2,200 to $3,300. But that got a thumbs-down from neighbors and the Planning Board. The brothers came back in the fall with a smaller plan that reduced the number of units to 23 and lowered the height of the building to two stories.
But those changes, and a traffic and school study from the developers that said there will be little impact on traffic and schools, failed to sway the neighborhood and the ZBA.
Regnante had argued town zoning allows for the development because it is simply another nonconforming use that will not be detrimental to the neighborhood. But the abutters disagreed.
While two of three ZBA members supported the project, a special permit required a unanimous vote.
It’s unclear what will happen next.
The development team has an agreement to purchase the restaurant, a 1¼ acre parcel assessed at $1.5 million, for an undisclosed amount.
The Palumbos said last summer that if the apartment project was rejected, they would build a new restaurant on the site. They could also file a lawsuit.
But Regnante said nothing has been decided.
“Our 23-unit apartment building met all dimensional requirements, but the ZBA chairman did not agree,” he said.
The Palumbos are not the only developers who have tried to redevelop the Bali Hai site. Two years ago, plans for a four-story, 68-unit apartment building to replace the 48-year-old landmark by Monastiero Development were also rejected.