Peabody cries foul on affordable housing proposal

The Salem News | By John Castelluccio
February 7, 2017

PEABODY — City officials are sharply critical of a proposal to build a large apartment complex and townhouses — 80 units total — on the Elks Lodge property on Oak Street.

The city says the plan is retaliation by the developers who, sensing they would not receive necessary city approvals for a much smaller condo development at the site, withdrew their original plan before it could be rejected and sought to build under the state’s affordable housing law (Chapter 40B) instead.

Two big issues are density and flooding around the site, which is almost entirely situated in an established FEMA flood plain, according to the city.

Larkin Real Estate Inc. first came before the city’s Conservation Commission in January 2014 with a plan for 26 townhouse condos at the Peabody-Lynn Elks Lodge at 40 Oak St.

The firm said it had a purchase and sale agreement with the Elks, which would move elsewhere, and the condos would mainly be built in what is now a large parking lot behind the club.

Strong concerns were raised then by the city and neighbors about the density of the development in the downtown neighborhood and existing flooding problems. The commission requested Larkin scale back the proposal.

Larkin, however, refused to comply and in March 2015, withdrew the project from before the commission, according to Conservation Agent Lucia Del Negro.

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