Swampscott settles with church in eminent domain case

SWAMPSCOTT – The city has reached an agreement with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lynn in an eminent domain case.

In 2021, Swampscott began development of its new elementary school on Whitman Road, expected to open this fall. Shortly after the project was approved, the city acquired permanent easements from the church to create an exit from the new elementary school to Forest Avenue. In the summer of 2022, the church filed a claim in Salem Superior Court, alleging they were not adequately compensated for their property losses. Peter Flynn, an attorney for the church, said the church received $500,000 for the easements at the time.

Nearly a year and a half later, Flynn decided it was time to “bury the hatchet.” He attributed the length of the trials solely to the “messy” language in the order in which the trials were conducted.

“As part of the settlement, we are going to establish the order of admission so that the school is protected going forward in terms of how they maintain their access and how they reach the school,” Flynn explained. “The church will be protected to such an extent that in ten, fifteen or twenty years they will no longer have to worry about whether they can still sell parts of their property.”

Flynn emphasized that he believes no one on either side of the legal dispute has ever acted in bad faith.

City Manager Sean Fitzgerald credited Board Chairman David Grishman and member Peter Spellios for their efforts to reach the settlement on the city’s part, and is pleased that the lawsuit has ended and the city can focus on the upcoming opening of the new school facility. .

“The easement here will ensure that we can provide safe access to that new school and really support the pedestrian safety responsibilities that we need to have for that,” Fitzgerald said.

  • Benjamin Pierce

    Ben Pierce is Item’s Swampscott and Nahant reporter. He graduated with honors from Marist College in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and sports journalism. He also has experience covering Marblehead and Peabody for the item. An avid sports fan from Boston, Ben enjoys video games, swimming, and watching Tom Brady highlights in his spare time.