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Housing Watch: Salem's Proposed Adaptive Reuse Zoning Overlay Fails in Final Vote

3.15.19

From The Salem News

"Five city councilors shot down an overlay zoning ordinance Thursday night, even after being given a way to continue work on the ordinance to address concerns.

With the rejection of the zoning package aimed at reusing school and city buildings for housing, it can't resurface until at least January of 2020. In the meantime, the future of a construction project in the old senior center building on Broad Street is now in doubt.

The proposal would have created a “Municipal and Religious Reuse Overlay District,” which established rules for developers to work under when developing certain properties in Salem that are owned by the city or religious institutions."

From The Salem Gazette

"In a five-to-six vote Thursday night, Salem City Council defeated a proposed zoning overlay ordinance that would have allowed for the redevelopment of underutilized and vacant municipal and religious buildings in Salem.

On the reconsideration of first-passage for the Municipal and Religious Adaptive Reuse Overlay District, At-large councilors Elaine Milo, Arthur Sargent and Domingo Dominguez, Ward 4 Councilor Tim Flynn and Ward 7 Councilor Steve Dibble voted in the dissent, At-Large Councilor Thomas Furey, Ward 1 Councilor Robert McCarthy, Ward 2 Councilor Christine Madore, Ward 3 Councilor Lisa Peterson, Ward 5 Councilor Josh Turiel and Ward 6 Councilor Beth Gerard in the affirmative.

The vote arrived two weeks after at-large councilors Elaine Milo and Arthur Sargent, Ward 7 Councilor Steve Dibble and Ward 4 Councilor Tim Flynn voted against the matter during the City Council’s Feb. 28 regular meeting.

Neither in the Feb. 28 meeting nor in Thursday night’s meeting did the much discussed and highly vetted proposal capture the supermajority vote - eight out of 11 - needed for first passage. That vote means the zoning changes can not be brought before the City Council until its 2020 session - what many who support the ordinance see as a setback for what they describe as an issue that needs addressed without delay: Salem’s housing crisis."

Governor's Proposed Housing Choice Bill Supported by REALTORS®

Last night's failure to pass the Adaptive Zoning Overlay emphasizes the importance of Governor Charlie Baker's proposed Housing Choice Bill, which is supported by the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, that would make it easier for cities and towns to relax zoning restrictions to facilitate the construction of new housing. Under the new bill, the vote in Salem last night would have succeeded given that a majority of the City Council supported the overlay. Under current state law, a super majority is required of municipalities in order to pass local zoning changes. 

Read more about the Governor's Housing Choice Bill here

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