Court Battle On: Greenwood Avenue Neighbors vs Town

A trial opens today in Boston Land Court where plaintiffs are alleging "spot" zoning of the Greenwood Middle School parcel.


Today in Boston Land Court a case starts that challenges a Swampscott bylaw amendment rezoning the Greenwood Middle School and allowing substantially higher density, the court record states.

Arthur MacLeod and at least 12 other plaintiffs maintain the rezoning is "spot" zoning and impermissable.

A number of Greenwood Avenue residents have said at local meetings that the development's traffic and density — 41 residential units — would destroy the neighborhood's character.

The town of Swampscott denies that the rezoning is impermissable.

Groom Construction is proposing to buy the old Middle School building from the town and tear it down. It would replace it with a 41-unit condominum building.

Developers have said that the building is deteriorating and has limited historical significance left, and to preserve it would cost much more than to demolish it. 

The Greenwood neighbors are represented by lawyer Carl D. Goodman.

The town is represented by lawyer Patricia A. Cantor.

The case is estimated to last three days.

It is taking place at 3 Pemberton Square, near Government Center, in Boston and starts at 9:30 am Wednesday.




Connie January 09, 2013 at 12:17 PM
What a waste of our town's limited money!!
Myron S. Stone January 09, 2013 at 01:20 PM
As a taxpayer I resent the town having to pay legal fees to defend in this case, the judge should throw this case out as being frivolous and award the town funds to cover legal costs. Myron Stone
pamela boucher January 09, 2013 at 01:22 PM
let tom groom do his work put the condos up. it will create money for the town.
Liz January 09, 2013 at 01:45 PM
why do we as taxpayers have to foot the bill...we pay the town attorneys enough each month, for whatever they do? we need better money management in this town....start with decreasing the school budget, then the DPW and down the line....we are being bleeded dry....
Whisky January 09, 2013 at 02:26 PM
When the obstructionists lose this case, they should reimburse the towns legal fees.
Lenny January 09, 2013 at 03:02 PM
The last picture in the series shows just how beautiful the building was. It is a pity it can't be restored to the way it was. So many other schools have been refurbished and put into alternative use. Oceanview, an assisted living facility in Beverly, was an old middle school. There is an old church and rectory in South Boston, next to Broadway station that are now condos....there is an old school house in Lynn on 129 that was converted to office space. There are countless examples. It is a shame that it can't be the case with this building..because it is a beautiful building. But when there isn't a developer that is interested in trying to save it because it is too costly, then I think the town has to sadly appreciate that it must go.
David E. Peterson, Esq. January 09, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Here's an offer for the obstructionists in the neighborhood: If you pay for the demolition of the building and construction of a park in its place, then you won't have to live near the condo building. Otherwise a new condo building is better than an old vacant school, for everyone.
Liz January 09, 2013 at 06:18 PM
great comment and solution David Peterson....just how many of these obstructionists have lived in Swampscott more than a couple of years, those of us who were born here and our parents before us think about whats good for them town first and then ourselves...too much power given to the newbies...I will wait for the backlash!!!!
Joan P. White January 09, 2013 at 07:47 PM
This town is loosing it's. Soul The developers will never be satisfied until we have a Town without character and NOT a tree left
bigblue January 09, 2013 at 08:46 PM
Great idea Mr. Peterson if they want to buy it let them ,good luck
Whisky January 10, 2013 at 01:42 AM
Joan, please let me know how many trees are on the school property now. What are the chances there will be MORE vegetation than currently exists?
Whisky January 10, 2013 at 01:44 AM
SHOW OF HANDS, PLEASE: How many respondents attended this school either as a High School or Middle School? If you did attend, did your experience help you grow fond of this structure?
Liz January 10, 2013 at 08:18 PM
I and my two children attended school in town from K-12 and we all remember our friends, teachers and experiences...they were good times and they were lean times not alot of money in the schools in those days...I do remember the slanted floor on the first floor near the office in the Greenwood ave property....aaah the good ole days!!!!
Steve Marino January 13, 2013 at 05:27 AM
And we wonder why our tax rate is among the highest in the state. Residents should have no right to slow or stop projects like this unless they are personally harmed in some way. This project, and others like it, benefit everyone in town by increasing the tax base. I also agree with the English system of law that allows the winning party of litigation to have their legal fees payed for by the losing party. This would stop such frivolous action like this one.
Carl Goodman March 09, 2014 at 03:45 PM
Land Court decision and judgment March 4, 2014. http://www.attorneygoodman.com/McLeodDecision.pdf Town acted illegally.
Connie March 15, 2014 at 02:54 PM
I was very upset to read the article in the Swampscott Reporter about the Greenwood Avenue property. The neighbors say that felt "they were left out of the process" and "their needs weren't met". I attended practically every meeting about the Greenwood Ave. property. Every neighbor had a chance to speak and Tom Groom did everything they requested, including traffic studies, light studies, sound studies, landscape changes, abutment changes. I can't believe these people say "they're needs weren't met". This building is deplorable. It has become a junk yard in the last 7 years. I can't imagine what it will look like by the time someone is allowed to do something with the property. The neighbors might get less than they want if this building goes back out to bid and a developer gets approval for 40B housing. There is no fighting that in land court. Be careful what you wish for.
Lenny March 15, 2014 at 06:05 PM
The town would have fared better in court had they not misrepresented what they thought would happen with the land. The judge, and rightly I believe, expressed skepticism that the Swampscott elderly and empty nesters would end up living in units built there. I would assume that judges reset litigants trying to the pull the wool over their eyes so flagrantly. But I agree with you Connie.....it could wind up being a phyrric victory for the neighbors if someone gets 40B housing.
Myron S. Stone March 16, 2014 at 10:26 AM
Connie, I completely agree with you, the Greenwood Ave. associates, including a now Selectman had plenty to say at several meetings, the Judge states that the Town is doing this to " make money " what is wrong with trying to get more money for our Town? This group is only interested in having a Town maintained off street parking lot, I live close to this property, i hope that the Town sells it to a 40B developer, or nursing home or for light manufacturing.


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