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March 24, 2014

Peabody condo plan brings flooding concerns

PEABODY — Residents say a proposed condo development in downtown Peabody could bring more flood waters their way and add further congestion to the neighborhood.

Larkin Real Estate Group of North Reading wants to build 26 condominiums on property owned and occupied by the Peabody-Lynn Elks Lodge at 40 Oak St. The parking lot at the rear of the property, where most of the condos would be built, extends to Littles Lane and leads to Main Street.

The club would be demolished and the townhouses, built in groups of three or four buildings together, would have two-car garages underneath.

But neighbors say the area is already densely settled, with narrow streets, and located in a flood zone. There are wetlands abutting the parking lot. Streets and backyards are already deluged in bad storms, they say, and they fear 26 new homes will worsen the problem.

Charlene Cruz of 5 Sanborn St. said her yard was under 3 feet of water in the 2011 storm, and she can imagine a worse scenario with townhouses there. Her backyard faces the parking lot.

Cruz has flood insurance, but says she’s one of the only residents in the neighborhood who does.

George and Judith Donahue live on the other side of the Elks, at 39 Washington St., which is at a high-enough elevation they don’t get flooded.

“That area down there is wetlands ... a swamp,” Judith Donahue said, adding that her husband used to ice skate many years ago where the parking lot is now.

“That many townhouses could change the whole lay of the land,” she said, and bring with it more flooding, congestion, noise and traffic. She said she’s not against housing and isn’t sure what the best use of the property might be, but “overcrowding is a problem. ... I certainly don’t think throwing in 26 townhouses is the best use of that property.”

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