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Over-55 community soundly beat in Lynnfield

Lynnfield, Ma. 4-29-19. The new Lynnfield town Moderator Joseph Markey opens his first town meeting to a packed house at the Lynnfield Middle School. (Owen O'Rourke)

Opponents of senior housing, who painted a picture of Lynnfield becoming Pottersville, the dark city depicted in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” defeated an over-55 development.

In a lopsided vote, Town Meeting killed a proposal to rezone 1414 Main St. to allow senior housing. The tally was 340 against, 174 for, well below the two-thirds needed for passage.

Developer Angus Bruce has a purchase and sale agreement to buy the 22-acre property. Under his proposal, 56 units for seniors would have been built.

The opposition, led by Kenneth Peterson, an upper Main Street resident for more than 30 years, called the project “detrimental,” and a “safety hazard” noting Main Street has a history of traffic accidents.

“We must vote to stop this nonsense,” he told the crowd of 485 voters to cheers.

Selectman Philip Crawford made the case for the project. He said the choice is not between senior housing or nothing. The developer can build 15 single-family homes as of right, he said.

“A new subdivision of single-family homes will certainly have an impact on schools,” he said. “An over-55 community will not.”

But critics said they prefer 15 single-family homes to nearly five dozen units.

“Lynnfield welcomes children, and I am not against a single-family home subdivision,” said one voter.

Another opponent said empty nesters who leave their single- family homes to live in the over-55 community will likely sell to families.

“Do the math,” she said.

The vote was closely watched by Ron Bonvie of Bonvie Homes on Cape Cod who was hoping to build The Fairways Edge at Sagamore. The project, defeated last year, would be located on 105 acres around Sagamore Springs Golf Course.

That project also needs rezoning. Under the plan, the golf course would remain and 154 attached units ranging from 2,400-3,000 square feet. would be built in clusters of duplexes, triplexes, and quads. Each residence would feature a first floor master suite, full lower level, and attached two-car garage.

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