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GA Blog: Salem

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2.28.20 Salem City Council Considers Inclusionary Zoning

Last night, the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance drafted by the Salem’s Affordable Housing Trust was on the agenda for the Salem City Council. 

Salem does not currently have an Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance.  The ordinance would require 10% of units in developments of 6 or more total units to be Affordable Housing.  See more of the details of the proposed ordinance here.

The Salem City Council referred the ordinance to a joint public hearing with the Planning Board.  The public hearing date has not yet been scheduled.

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2.19.20 ADU Discussion Moves to Public Hearing in Salem

On February 13th, the Salem City Council renewed discussion on by-right Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) with a new 2020 ADU Ordinance.  In 2019, a proposed ADU Ordinance failed final passage 6-5 for lack of a super majority.

The 2020 ADU Ordinance includes two new programs to create Affordable Housing. If a property owner agrees to rent their ADU as a 60% Area Median Income (AMI) Affordable Housing Unit they can receive a property tax exemption and utilize a low-interest loan program for construction.

The Salem City Council unanimously voted to have a joint public hearing on the new ordinance.  A date has not yet been scheduled at this time.

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2.19.20 Salem Opportunity Zones Get National Spotlight

Salem, as a member in the inaugural class of Smart Growth America and LOCUS’s Massachusetts Opportunity Zones Academy, has announced its participation in the new National Opportunity Zones Marketplace.

The new Marketplace will display “shovel-ready” development projects in Salem’s two Opportunity Zones to investors across the country. 

Mayor Kim Driscoll noted that “by participating in the National Opportunity Zones Marketplace, we can work directly with businesses, property owners, investors, and developers, share Salem’s aspirations, and collaborate on projects that seek to accomplish these goals.”

The Marketplace will also work as a communication tool for comments and questions about Opportunity Zones. You can create a profile and join Salem’s Community page here.

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2.13.20 Salem Returns to ADU Discussion


Tonight, the Salem City Council has on their agenda the new Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance and the 2019 ADU Ordinance failed final passage 6-5 for lack of a super majority.

The proposed ordinance would allow for the construction of an ADU by-right between 350-800 square feet with 1 dedicated off-street parking space and up to 2 bedrooms.  The property owner would also be free to choose their tenant. 

Introduced into this version of the ADU Ordinance are two new programs.  If an owner offers their ADU as a 60% Area Median Income (AMI) Affordable Housing unit they can receive a property tax exemption and utilize a low-interest loan program for construction.

There are still some restrictions: short term rentals are prohibited and at least one owner of the property must use the property as their principle residence.  There are also waivers and special permits that can be obtained to ease some requirements, like lower the parking requirement or increase the dwelling size.


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1.23.20 Inclusionary Zoning for Salem


Expressed as a top housing initiative by Mayor Kim Driscoll at the start of the year, Salem’s Affordable Housing Trust has forwarded an Inclusionary Zoning Ordnance for comment.

The ordinance would impact developments containing 6 or more units and require 10% of the units to be Affordable Housing.  Fraction of units can either be rounded up (for example 1.8 to 2) or a cash payment can be made to the Affordable Housing Trust.  The Affordable Housing units would be capped at 60% of Area Median Income (AMI).  The ordinance does allow for a higher AMI restriction for the B5 district (downtown) if the developer can show that 60% would make the project infeasible.  No alternative to the construction of the units (such as a Fee-in-lieu payment or off site construction) is proposed, both of which are common in other North Shore communities.

The proposed ordinance is currently with the Zoning Board of Appeals, Chair of the Planning Board, and the City Solicitor for comment.

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1.2.20 Housing Still the Focus for Salem in 2020

Accessory Dwellings Units (again) and Inclusionary Zoning are on Mayor Driscoll’s housing agenda for 2020.

After failing to pass the ADU ordinance in 2019 by lacking the required super majority, the Mayor hopes that the updated 2020 ordinance will be in a better position to get adopted.  Some of the benefits to homeowners discussed in 2019 should be packaged in the new 2020 ordinance, including tax exemptions and a loan fund.  The Mayor has state her goal is to have an ADU ordinance adopted in 2020.

Inclusionary Zoning will be a new proposal for consideration.  This would require that housing projects of a certain size include Affordable Housing Units.   Besides increasing the stock of Affordable Housing Units, the goal of the proposal would also be to create a central place to apply for Affordable Housing instead of having to apply to individual projects as is currently the case for residents who seek Affordable Housing in Salem.  The Inclusionary Zoning proposal is expected to arrive in early 2020.

You can read more of the Mayor’s comments on housing here.

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