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GA Blog: Salem

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9.13.19 Salem's Municipal and Religious Building Re-Use Zoning Ordinance Passes

With a vote from the City Council of 9-2 the Municipal and Religious Building Re-Use Zoning Ordinance recieved final passage at the City Council meeting on September 12th.

This ends the long journey for the ordiance that started in 2018 with the identification of municipal and religious buildings that were no longer serving thier prior use.  Without the overlay the identified buildings in current city zoning could only be redeveloped into single family or two-family housing.  

The approved ordiance increases the number of approvable units through special permit and also contains an affordable housing requirement.  These developements as they now move forward will bring much needed housing the to the city.

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9.11.19 Salem Five-Year Consolidation Plan and FY21 Action Plan

Through late September and early October, Salem will be holding a number of public hearings to receive comment while developing its Five-Year Consolidated Plan and FY21 Action Plan (July 2020 through June 2021).  The Five-Year Consolidated Plan will detail the housing, community, and economic development needs of Salem as well as determining strategies in order to satisfy those needs.

The centerpiece of the meetings will be a General Public Hearing on September 25th.  A full list of the Community Meeting Schedule can be found here. There is also an opportunity for written comment and an online poll (beginning on September 18th) which will be found here.

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9.10.19 Municipal and religious overlay district moves to City Council

On September 5th in Salem, the Municipal and Religious Overlay District ordinance progressed through the Ordinance, Licenses, and Legal Affairs (OLLA) subcommittee to be back on the City Council’s agenda. This is the next step of forward progress for the ordinance. 

NSAR has been following this issue in support since its proposal last year.  Passage of the Overlay District will clear the way for development of much needed additional housing units now and in the future.  Development proposals already have even been held in wait until the passage of the ordinance. 

The next City Council’s meeting is September 12th, just in time before the ordinance’s deadline of September 15th.

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9.10.19 Opportunity Zone Educational Meeting

One of the outcomes of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was the creation of Opportunity Zones.  These are designated locations around the country where investment, through an Opportunity Fund, provides a potential tax shelter to its investors.

These zones prove to be of unique interest to REALTORS®, especially those who work with investors.  Per the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, capital gains invested in a fund can have their taxes deferred and ultimately reduced if held in the fund for long enough.

One of the more common reasons an individual would have a capital gain is through the sale of real property.  Thus, for a REALTOR® working with a home seller or investor these Opportunity Funds can be an additional benefit to a client with capital gains. 

Salem is holding an Open House to learn more about the Opportunity Zones located within the city.  The meeting is set for Tuesday, September 24th from 6-8pm.  For more meeting information click here.

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8.16.19 Salem Talks Affordability with Accessory Dwelling Units

Last night, the Salem City Council in conjunction with the Planning Board held their second public hearing on the topic of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

The main topic of the night was affordability and specifically if an affordability restriction should be added to the ordinance.  On the subject Mayor Driscoll remarked: “It’s going to be tough for us to put an affordability requirement on an ADU” adding further “the affordability restriction would frankly be difficult for the city to enforce” and the ADUs “don’t really lend themselves to super high rents.”  Public voices echoed these feelings as comments favoring an affordability restriction were in the minority opposed to the units being an avenue to create affordable housing in and of themselves.

Discussion also centered around the cost to create such a unit.  Residents with experience discussed how much it had cost them as well as our own David Friedberg who noted the availability of loans and the ability to generate wealth through equity because of the improvement in the property.

Christine Madore of Ward 2 said that by her count the public sentiment for the ordinance between the two meetings had been overwhelming positive at 77% speaking in favor.

The ordinance will now head to the Planning Board for their review.

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8.15.19 Salem Continues Public Hearings On Accessory Dwelling Units

Tonight, Salem continues public hearings on the topic of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).  The proposal, being heard in public for a second time, would expand the current ordinance to no longer require a special permit (if compliant), no longer be restricted by residential zone, no longer have tenant restrictions, prohibit short-term rentals, and require owner occupancy for a minimum of 2 years.

Allowing ADUs by right (as in not requiring a special permit) has been a growing trend within Massachusetts, including Rockport who has adopted it.  ADUs provide units that can be integrated into existing single family neighborhoods to provide low priced housing alternatives that have little or no negative impact on the character of the neighborhood.

The meeting is set to begin at 7:00pm in City Council Chambers at City Hall, 93 Washington Street 2nd Floor in Salem.

Further updates will be reported as discussions progress.

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