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GA Blog: Salem

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7.2.19 North Shore Transit-Oriented Development Discussions

 Multifamily projects built around North Shore commuter rail stations could help alleviate Greater Boston's affordable housing crunch, housing advocates told Congressman Seth Moulton on Monday.

Moulton, a Salem Democrat and advocate for public transportation and rail travel, met Monday with Harborlight Community Partners Executive Director Andrew DeFranza, Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance Executive Director Andre Leroux, and Tracy Corley, transit-oriented development fellow at MassINC, a nonpartisan public policy think tank, to talk about transit-oriented development.

"One of the key tie-ins to the work that we have been doing in this office is the connection between housing and transportation," Moulton said, "part of the solution to the housing crisis in downtown Boston isn't just building more housing in downtown Boston but improving the rail infrastructure so you can live easily in a place like Salem or Lynn and commute to work in downtown Boston."

 

Full Salem News Coverage here

Greater Boston 2019 Housing Report

 

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6.25.19 Salem Considers Accessory Dwelling Zoning Amendments

The City of Salem has been working to create policies that will facilitate more housing options in Salem.

Mayor Driscoll will be discussing a zoning change that could provide a surge of rental housing across the city during her State of the City address on Monday.

City planners recently drafted a new set of proposed rules governing "accessory dwelling units", otherwise known as in-law apartments, in all residentially zoned parts of the city. These rules would remove many restrictions on the apartments, essentially allowing them to be rented out like any other apartment.

The rules were submitted to the City Council on June 13, and they'll be discussed by Mayor Kim Driscoll during her speech Monday at the Workbar, 120 Washington St., at 7 p.m. Driscoll is also planning to address transportation issues, education and ways to combat the ongoing impacts caused by climate change.

In-law apartments are already allowed in single-family zones around Salem, but they come with some stiff restrictions. First, they can only be lived in by a family member of the property owner or a caregiver and they must be removed when the "tenant" leaves or the home is sold. They're also currently prohibited in all other residential zones.

Under the newly proposed rules, in-law apartments could be created without zoning board approval (by right, in other words) in any residential zone, if they met certain parameters. That includes a maximum of 800 square feet in size, doesn't cause a net loss of trees on the property and provides adequate parking on-site.

The Salem City Council Joint Public Hearing with the Planning Board relative to amending two Zoning Ordinances regarding Accessory Living Areas will be held on July 8, 2019

Salem News Coverage of the Salem's State of the City Address

 

Information on Public Hearing

 

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6.14.19 Salem Joint Hearing on Municipal and Religious Reuse, June 17th, 2019

On Monday, June 17th, 2019, the Salem City Council and Planning Board will hold a joint hearing about the proposed changes to zoning ordinance regarding “municipal and religious reuse” by special permit. The hearing will take place at 6:00pm at Salem City Hall, 93 Washington St.

Brokers working in Salem may be interested in the results of this hearing, as passage of this long-debated zoning ordinance change could lead to redevelopments of older buildings to increase the housing stock in the city. The effort began with an overlay district proposal that failed to reach the required supermajority vote in the city council, and, due to Salem’s time limits on bringing back proposals, has been revived as a plan to create a new zoning code allowing for a special permit to reuse any municipal or religious building for housing. Thank you to NSAR Town Monitors Cynthia Nina Soto and David Friedberg who have been active in working support of the municipal and religious reuse ordinance through its many iterations.

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5.13.19 Zoning Push In Salem Sparks Response from Governor Baker

Changes in zoning policy meant to support increased housing in Salem, which failed in the City Council last winter, are being reconsidered. On May 9th, the Salem City Council took another look at a proposal to create a "Municipal and Religious Overlay District" (MROD), drafted as a response to calls to develop two Archdiocese-owned properties and a former senior center and turn them into homes.

The proposal received a 7-4 vote in favor in February, but failed lacking the required supermajority. Two weeks later, a second vote also failed for the same reason, meaning the proposal could not be considered again until the following calendar year.

The proposal presented on May 9th was different enough from prior plans to circumvent the rules barring further consideration, presenting a plan to allow “special permits” allowing developers to get around the zoning restrictions previously preventing the development of the properties in question. The City Council voted with no apparent votes in opposition to send it to the Planning Board to schedule the hearing.

Governor Charlie Baker stated in response to the debate in Salem that he believes that the housing crisis is due to an insufficient amount of housing production in Massachusetts. He is backing a bill that will allow towns to switch to a majority vote for zoning changes, which doesn’t specifically require any affordable housing be included in a project, but the Governor believes more housing at any price point will solve the inventory problem and bring prices down.

Read more about the zoning changes in Salem here. Learn more about Governor Baker’s push to ease efforts to make zoning changes here.

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4.9.19 Next Salem Housing Forum is April 23rd

Over 200 people attended the Salem Housing Forum on March 5th. As a follow up to that discussion, on April 23rd a Salem Housing Workshop on Inclusionary Housing and Accessory Dwelling Units will be held.  The forum will focus on discussion of the city's housing challenges + review these two potential tools to help meet housing needs.

Many young adults, working families and seniors are struggling to find adequate, affordable housing in Salem. This has an impacts the entire city and threatens the character and livability of our community. Many municipalities have local laws requiring a percentage of new affordable units as part of any new development (inclusionary housing). In addition, cities/towns are increasingly looking to utilize existing housing stock to enable in-law units to help address their housing needs (accessory dwelling units).

 These options and a look forward to continuing an important dialogue on housing needs and tools that can put in place to help address this in Salem takes place on April 23rd at the Community Life Center, 401 Bridge Street.  6pm-8pm

 

 

 

 

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

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

Salem

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