Lynn seeks faster permitting process

September 27, 2012
By Thor Jourgensen/The Daily Item

City Councilors want to speed up the permitting process for developers interested in building on the Lynnway and make it easier for small businesses to obtain city permits.

With the city’s waterfront already designated a “growth district,” the next step is to guarantee prospective developers decisions on permit requests within 180 days, said Ward 5 City Councilor Brendan Crighton.

Crighton and his 10 colleagues voted Tuesday to adopt a state accelerated permitting law, called Chapter 43D, and they identified five Lynnway addresses as priority sites for applying the law.

The sites are the large “South Harbor” development parcel near the General Edwards Bridge; two sites on Blossom Street, near where plans for a harbor ferry service are taking shape, and 254 and 276 Lynnway.

Working with developers, the city initially plans to apply accelerated zoning to these sites.

“We’re really clearing a lot of barriers for development,” Crighton said.

View a map of the targeted areas. Click on the blue shapes for more information.

View New developments on the Lynnway in a larger map

The Lynnway is located in Ward 6 represented by Councilor Peter Capano, who said he knows of no property owners along the commercial roadway who have objected to the accelerated permitting.

“This will facilitate speeding up development,” he said.

Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Executive Director James Cowdell said state permits for projects near the water, including environmental approvals, can take six months to a year to obtain.

“That’s money to a developer; it can be a deal breaker,” he said.

Under accelerated permitting, Cowdell said 180 days is the maximum approval time for state approval.

“The reality is much quicker,” he said.

Crighton noted in a statement that quicker permitting makes communities that adopt it eligible for state grants and money to promote development sites.

“It’s no secret that one of the first things would-be developers look at when purchasing land is how cumbersome or not permitting and zoning is,” city Community Development Director James Marsh noted in the statement.

Business leaders praised council adoption of the sped-up permitting plan Tuesday and credited Council President Timothy Phelan with tackling city permit obstacles confronting small businesses.

Phelan on Tuesday named Crighton to head up a newly created permitting process review committee that will include council colleagues as well as Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce, Lynn Business Partnership and Latino Business Association representatives as well as city Inspectional Services Director Michael Donovan.

“They are going to review the in-house permitting process to see where the problems are and how do we make it easier for businesses,” said Phelan.

Chamber government affairs committee chairman Taso Nikolakopoulos said business owners with locations in several communities have told him “Lynn has a lot more red tape” when it comes to business permits than other cities and towns.

“When people have a timeline for starting a business, the longer it is held up, the more it costs them,” he said.

John’s Roast Beef owner and Chamber President Ralph Sevinor said business permit streamlining is a Chamber priority.

“We see this as a beginning to show everyone that Lynn is open for business,” Sevinor said.

Sevinor said a long permitting process is “one of the major impediments” discouraging businesses from locating in Lynn. He said the new council committee with its mix of elected officials and business representatives marks “the first time people are really starting to work together” on permit reform.

“It’s a matter of economic survival,” he said.

Thor Jourgensen can be reached at



Back to News