Sagamore Spring development voted down twice at Town Meeting
By Christopher Roberson
Although Town Meeting voted, 171-136, in favor of rezoning the property for Fairways Edge at Sagamore, it did not satisfy the two-thirds vote that is required for such articles. In response, Finance Committee Member Robert Priestley made a motion to reconsider the article. However, his motion was also defeated, 122-148. Because the initial rezoning article did not pass, the three related articles were sent back to the Planning Board “for further study.”
During the April 30 meeting, concerns were raised about the development falling under Chapter 40B of the state’s Affordable Housing Zoning Law. However, Attorney Theodore Regnante, counsel for developer Ronald Bonvie, said the town’s 40B housing stock is already at 11.5 percent and the minimum requirement is 10 percent. “We are well protected from any 40B in Lynnfield,” he said.
Resident Kenneth Peterson said he is worried about the project’s impact on “safety and traffic,” adding that people routinely drive along Upper Main Street at “60-70” miles per hour. “We’ve had accidents – major accidents,” he said. “If the town goes forward and we suffer, we’re going to sue.”
Resident Holly Ciampa said the development would only exacerbate the “enormous amount of traffic” in that part of town. She asked about the source of the development’s water service. In response, Peter Ogren, president of Hayes Engineering, said there is a “verbal agreement” with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority to provide water service to the site.
Regarding a construction timeline, Ogren said he could only provide an estimate, adding that it would likely take more than six years to complete the development. “It’s never possible to predict how long a project will take,” he said.
Resident Patricia Campbell said that according to the Town Charter, the matter had no place on the warrant, as zoning articles can only be taken up during the fall Town Meeting.
Resident Robert Prosperi spoke in favor of the development. “I think this project is incredibly good for the town; I don’t know why it got turned down,” he said.
Town and School Budgets
Residents voted, 257-50, to pass the town’s total budget of $54.8 million for fiscal year 2019. Within that figure, $28 million was earmarked to fund the school budget.
However, Campbell said a significant amount of information was left out of that budget. “You do not have much detail on the largest part of our budget,” she said. “We have the right to determine the bottom line.”
Campbell was also concerned that the School Committee has continued to authorize pay increases of “five to 12” percent. Superintendent of Schools Jane Tremblay said some of the pay increases were triggered by salary steps and lanes. She said other increases were caused by instances where one employee was replaced by another employee who already had a higher salary.
Resident Ellen Crawford said she is opposed to cutting the district-wide nurse’s aide position and the Media Center aide position at Lynnfield High School. In addition, resident Frances Fleming said the Media Center is required to have an aide. Therefore, a motion was made to increase the school budget by $30,000 and have the two positions reinstated. Campbell asked if the additional funds would put the town in an “override position.” “I urge you not to be permissive,” she said.
Yet the motion passed, 191-134, to add $30,000 back into the school budget. Although Town Meeting cannot require school officials to use money for a specific purpose, Tremblay guaranteed that the $30,000 would be used to restore those jobs.
Resident Katy Shea made a motion to increase the allocation for Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) from $200,000 to $300,000. “Our OPEB obligation is increasing, not decreasing,” she said.
In response, Town Administrator Robert Dolan said there is a greater need for the additional $100,000 in the town’s Stabilization Fund He also said he did not want to take any more money than what was needed from the Free Cash account. “I’m concerned about the draining of our free cash,” said Dolan.
Shea’s motion was subsequently defeated, 81-244.
King Rail Golf Course
Resident Harry Lecours took issue with the $950,000 that was slated to go into the Golf Enterprise Fund. Therefore, he made a motion to close King Rail Golf Course by June 30 and replace it with a dog park or walking trails. During his presentation, Lecours said the size of the course’s parking lot is “woefully inadequate.” He also said there is no food service or a practice putting green.
“There needs to be a lot more managerial oversight,” said Lecours, adding that King Rail has not made any money for the town.
However, Town Accountant Julie McCarthy said the course has brought in $583,000 and has spent $537,000 for a net profit of $47,000.
Golf Course Manager Donald Lyons said King Rail has actually been more profitable than Reedy Meadow Golf Course. “We definitely hold our own in the industry,” he said.
Lyons said that closing King Rail would create a hardship for league players. “We have leagues that we’ve made promises to,” he said. “What do I tell them?”
Lecours’s motion was ultimately voted down following the discussion.