Opinion

Lynnfield goes bananas

Signs don’t vote and that adage got buried Monday night in Lynnfield.

Town Meeting voted by a two-to-one margin to squash a zoning change to allow a 56-unit senior housing complex to be built on upper Main Street.

Town Meeting declared its right to “build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything” — BANANA.

Lynnfield homes were dotted with “Yes on Article 16” signs in the days leading up to Town Meeting. But opponents dominated the debate over developer Angus Bruce’s plan to build duplexes at 1414 Main St.

Opposition and support for Bruce’s Woods of Lynnfield project is a perplexing study in contrasts.

Bruce lost an important April 16 Planning Board vote on his project. But Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen members supported the project with Selectman Philip Crawford speaking in favor of the development.

Crawford told Town Meeting the project would have generated property tax revenue for the town while burdening Lynnfield with relatively few town services.

Bruce told the Planning Board members that the Woods of Lynnfield would generate $609,000 annually in property taxes while a 15-home subdivision on the Main Street land translates into a $224,000 annual cost to the town. Much of the expense was associated with added cost to schools.

Bruce has a purchase and sale agreement to buy the 22-acre Main Street property and zoning allows him to build up to 15 single-family homes on the land, subject to town approval.

Anyone who attended the Planning Board meeting realized opposition to the Woods of Lynnfield centered around the project’s impact on upper Main Street traffic.

But Bruce and Main Street neighbors painted starkly contrasting pictures of the traffic threat. The developer’s traffic engineers said the stretch of road near the project site saw two single-car crashes in the past five years. Residents painted a picture of speeding drivers, dangerous curves and soaring traffic volumes in denouncing the project.

It was Planning Board member Katherine Flaws who put the nail in the project on April 16 when she introduced her motion opposing it by describing it. She described it as “isolated” with “nothing to make it part of the surrounding community.”

That is the very definition of BANANA logic when it comes to discouraging new development. But Town Meeting has spoken.

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