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Controversy blossoms in Lynn around planned condo development

150 Blossom St., the former building for North Shore News Inc., is set to be demolished to make space for 90 four-story condos. (Jakob Menendez )

LYNN — More than a dozen residents appeared before the Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday night to speak in opposition to a planned luxury condominium development on Blossom Street. 

Prior to the meeting, a petition had been circulating on social media, calling for residents and abutters to show up to voice their displeasure with the project, which is being developed by property owner Patrick McGrath. 

When completed, the four-story residential building at 150 Blossom St. will feature 75 one-bedroom units and 15 two-bedroom units.  

City zoning dictates that the development requires 135 parking spaces, but the current plan only calls for 104 parking spaces. 

Saying he was speaking on behalf of more than 26 residents who had signed a petition in opposition to the developer’s parking plan, Lynn resident and Reverend Everett “E.E.” Schofield read the document during the meeting. 

“We believe the exception to this rule should not be allowed at this time,” said Schofield. “More needs to be done to make sure this project doesn’t hurt people and the surrounding neighborhoods. The project needs to benefit and include Lynn residents, not people coming from outside into Lynn.” 

McGrath’s attorney, Paul Keating, said the project complies with all other aspects of the city’s ordinance, but they are seeking relief from Section 9 of the zoning bylaw regarding required parking spaces. Keating brought a petition seeking zoning relief to the ZBA, saying the development team needs the variance passed in order to continue with the project, which he said will bring in an annual tax revenue of approximately $1 million. 

One parking spot will be provided for each condo. Ninety-one spaces will be located in a parking garage below the units and there are plans for 13 surface spaces. 

The 71,000-square-foot property was previously occupied by former newspaper distributor North Shore News and will be constructed in the same manner as McGrath’s other housing development at 164 Blossom St. 

The planned development will include new landscaping, such as trees and bushes around the perimeters, and the installation of a new 6-foot sidewalk and planting along the street. 

Following Keating’s presentation, the ZBA read letters in support of the project from Ward 6 councilor Fred Hogan, City Council President and mayoral candidate Darren Cyr and Economic Development & Industrial Corporation (EDIC/Lynn) Executive Director James Cowdell. 

In his letter, Hogan said the property currently houses a “closed, defunct newspaper-printing facility and has been a blight on the neighborhood for many years.

“Neighbors have regularly contacted me to complain about the neglected, underutilized, under-developed property on Blossom Street,” Hogan said. “New homeowners will be moving to these complexes with disposable income to spend in Lynn businesses.”

Hogan said the developments on Blossom Street will “dramatically alter the neighborhood for the better” by bringing in new tenants, and could be the catalyst for bringing back the Lynn-Boston Ferry; the two developments are located near the ferry terminal. 

While the project has garnered support from city officials, 10 residents spoke in opposition at the meeting, many of them living in the surrounding area, including Alley, Harbor and Shepard streets. Some said they are against this project because of the strain it will put on street parking and traffic. Others were repelled by the high condo prices, which they said would not be affordable for the average Lynn resident. 

Neighbors said they are against the parking petition because it is already difficult for them to find street parking, so adding another 90 units to the neighborhood will make it nearly impossible. 

One man said he has to drive around his neighborhood multiple times looking for somewhere to park when he gets home from work; he added that he usually has to park further away from his home and walk. He said there is not enough space for all of the people who would be moving into these new Blossom Street developments, when factoring in the lack of parking for current residents of the neighborhood.  

Cyr agreed with this statement, but said the problem is a citywide issue; there is an issue with parking no matter where you go in Lynn, he said. 

To combat this issue, he suggested implementing angled parking spaces on Blossom Street, adding a Zipcar kiosk under the bridge, and enforcing resident stickers in the area. 

The ZBA did not vote on the parking petition Tuesday, opting instead to continue the discussion at its Aug. 17 meeting.

In the meantime, the ZBA instructed the developers to work with neighbors and Hogan, who is ward councilor for the area, to figure out a parking plan that all parties can agree on. 

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