Dana Home Proposal Riles Residents

A Lexington woman wants to turn the Dana Home and the house next door into an upscale inn and restaurant just outside Lexington Center, but neighbors are concerned that she's thinking too big.

A proposal to transform the has drawn criticism from neighbors and residents concerned about rezoning the residential property to allow for a more robust commercial use.

Tricia Perez Kennealy, the Lexington resident behind the project, intends to seek Town Meeting approval of commercial development spot zoning for the residential properties at 2027 and 2013 Massachusetts Ave. and develop a 22-room inn with a 14-tabletop restaurant/lounge using the existing structures. 

In response to those plans, a group of residents and neighbors has organized around shared concerns about safety, traffic, parking, noise, lighting, wetlands and other issues that could arise if the town grants spot zoning and the current proposal goes forward.

The two sides came together last Friday, Dec. 2, at the League of Women Voters' First Friday Forum, titled “.”

Kennealy provided an overview of her plans, and responded to a handful of questions. 

A trained chef with a background in finance, Kennealy wants to restore the Dana Home, a former assisted living residence, and the single-family home and barn on the adjacent property to create the kind of upscale inn/restaurant that appeals to tourists and families in town visiting relatives for a special occasion.

The neighborhood group, which calls itself Lexington Neighbors for Responsible Growth, distributed a six-page statement of issues and concerns, many of which relate to the proposal’s scope. “The intensity of the currently proposed hotel-restaurant-lounge operation overburdens the size of the property,” the statement says.

Forum attendees asked Kennealy about parking plans, parking signs, whether the current plans are an all-or-nothing proposal and why she defines the proposal as an inn when anything with more than 15 rooms is considered a hotel under town regulations. 

Regarding plans for posting “No Parking” signs on Mass Ave and meeting the required number of parking spaces, Kennealy said her team would work with town boards to develop plans officials consider appropriate. 

According to Kennealy, the 22-room, 14-tabletop proposal is the business plan makes sense financially for her and her husband, who purchased the property with these plans in mind.  

As for whether 22 rooms makes it a hotel, Kennealy said she believes that distinction comes down to the style of hospitality. “If you want to call it a hotel, you can call it a hotel, but I’m going to call it an inn,” she said.

Kennealy and her team have made the rounds to several town boards and organizations and the concept was well received by members of the local business community and regional tourism industry, who said an inn could enhance Lexington’s appeal as a destination and promote economic development.

Addressing the LWV forum crowd last Friday, Planning Board Chairman Richard Canale explained that, while his board would consider the use as an inn and as a restaurant to be acceptable at the Dana Home location, it is also working with the applicant to address concerns and make sure “whatever goes to Town Meeting is the optimal intensity.” 

Tom Harrington December 08, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Good catch! Thanks for the correction. The former Hancock School was converted to condos. I think it is great alternative model for the Dana Home property.
Steven Iverson December 14, 2011 at 06:02 PM
To follow up a bit: I visited the web site of a group that opposes the project (lexprotects.com). It says that the group is made up of over 70 residents. The site is full of useful information about the project -- but, in the About US section, it doesn't provide any information about who the members are, who runs the group, or what its funding sources are, if any. When I used the Leave a Reply feature to ask why this information wasn't provided, my post appeared as "awaiting moderation" for a couple of days, and then it abruptly disappeared. Having spoken to a resident recently about her strong opposition to the project, I can absolutely appreciate why neighbors might feel as they do. Shouldn't all parties practice transparency throughout this debate, though? I hope that more disclosure will appear soon at the lexprotects.com site. It would improve what is already a very good source of information.
Patrick Ball December 14, 2011 at 06:16 PM
Hi Steven, Thanks for reading and commenting. I believe a number of names were included in the literature made available at the First Friday Forum earlier this month, but I certainly understand your perspective regarding the website. I can also tell you that as our coverage continues, I hope to share more information about both sides of the issue.
Jerry Harris January 28, 2012 at 05:04 PM
We who are concerned over the size and scope of the proposed development support transparency across the board. We were never anonymous when we approached the new owner of the Dana Home in the summer of 2011; nor were we anonymous as we stood up to comment at the various meetings of the Conservation Commission, Planning Board, League of Women Voters, and Tourism Committee. We have updated the site recently to include a subset of names of those who are concerned about aspects of the proposed development. We recognize many of our neighbors do not agree with our concerns. We wish that in the spirit of community civility that we can disagree on topics like these and still remain close friends and neighbors. Jerry Harris
Jerry Harris January 28, 2012 at 05:07 PM
As a courtesy to the Planning Board, we have posted the latest copy of the Dana Home Preliminary Site Development and Use Plan (PSDUP). It can be found at the website http://www.lexprotects.com/. While there, you can also see some animations of how the site may change in appearance if the proposal is approved. Jerry Harris


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »