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GA Blog: Salem

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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


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3.6.19 Housing Watch: NSAR Members Join Hundreds at Salem's Community Housing Forum

NSAR members joined a few hundred residents at last night's Community Housing Forum in Salem hosted by Mayor Kim Driscoll and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). The nearly two-hour long forum featured data to illustrate the housing crisis facing Salem as well as tools the city may use to address the issue and asked residents to weigh in.

Several of those tools discussed included accessory dwelling units (also known as in-law apartments), condominium conversion caps, rental subsidies and inclusionary zoning.

To meet housing demand and avoid Salem residents getting priced out of their community, 2,725 more housing units would be needed by 2030 according to MAPC. 

Read more about the Housing Forum at The Salem News

Click here for a deck of Concern and Response cards produced by the City and MAPC regarding housing issues in Salem!

Salem Community Housing Forum

Hundreds of Salem residents gathered at the Community Life Center for a Community Housing Forum on Tuesday, March 5th hosted by Mayor Kim Driscoll and MAPC.


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3.5.19 Meeting Notice: Salem Community Housing Forum Tonight at 7:00pm

Tonight, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) will host a Salem Community Housing Forum from 7:00 - 8:30pm at the Community Life Center (401 Bridge St). The forum which will feature a community discussion on inclusionary zoning, housing needs and affordability in Salem. 

More information available at the Facebook Event.

This event comes in the midst of a community debate over what level of housing affordability should be included in a proposed Municipal & Religious Adaptive Reuse Zoning Ordinance that is up for another vote before the full Salem City Council next Thursday, March 14th at 7pm. The ordninance fell one vote shy of the supermajority needed for passage last week. Read more about the ordinance here. 

Additionally, Governor Charlie Baker has renewed his push for housing production calling for the State Legislative to send his proposed Housing Choice Initiative to his desk this legislative session. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® supports this bill which would lower the requirement for local zoning changes to a simple majority for municipalities.


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3.1.19 Housing Watch: Adaptive Reuse Zoning Proposal Defeated in Salem; Up for Reconsideration at March 14th City Council Meeting

Last night, the proposed Municipal & Religious Adaptive Reuse Zoning Ordinance was defeated in a 7-4 vote before the Salem City Council. Eight votes, or a super majority of the Council as required by state law to enact local zoning changes, were needed for passage. This ordinance would provide a permitting pathway for the reuse and redevelopment of underutilized municipal and religious properties in Salem for potential housing opportunities.

Amendments to the ordinance to increase the affordability requirement from 10% to 20% and to reserve housing exclusively for Salem residents were voted down, while the Area Medium Income (AMI) requirement was lowered from 80% to 60%. Despite that change, the ordinance was voted down after 9 months of debate. 

Prior to adjournment, a motion to reconsider was filed by Ward 6 Councillor Beth Gerard. That means the ordinance will be placed back on the agenda for a vote at the next Salem City Council Meeting on Thursday, March 14th at 7:00 P.M. at Salem City Hall. 

Click here to read NSAR's letter of support for the Municipal & Religious Zoning Overlay District. NSAR Salem Town Monitors David Friedberg and Cynthia Nina-Soto along with other NSAR members from Salem have attended and spoken at many of the public hearings on this ordinance.

In the meantime, a Salem Community Housing Forum is scheduled for next Tuesday, March 5th from 7:00 - 8:30pm at the Community Life Center (401 Bridge St) in Salem which will feature a community discussion on inclusionary zoning, housing needs and affordability in Salem, hosted by Mayor Kim Driscoll and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). 

In a related note, Governor Charlie Baker's proposed Housing Choice Initiative before the State Legislature, which is supported by the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, would lower the requirement for local zoning changes to a simple majority for municipalities. Governor Baker reiterated his support for the housing production bill earlier this week.


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2.28.19 Meeting Notice: Full City Council to Vote Tonight on Salem's Adaptive Reuse Overlay District

After nearly five hours of debate on Tuesday night, the Salem City Council's Committee on Ordinances, Licenses and Legal Affairs (OLLA) referred the Religious & Municipal Adapative Reuse Zoning Ordinance positively out of Committee to the full City Council which will take up the Ordinance for a vote tonight at 7:00pm at Salem City Hall (93 Washington Street).

This ordinance would provide a permitting pathway for the reuse and redevelopment of underutilized municipal and religious properties in Salem for potential housing opportunities. NSAR supports this proposed Zoning Overlay District which has also drawn support from The Salem News Editorial Board

Zoning changes require support from a supermajority of the Council (8 votes) over the course of two City Council meetings.

Click here for The Salem News coverage of Tuesday's Committee meeting.

Click here for the proposed and incorporated changes to the ordinance

The OLLA Committee stripped a long list of Planning Board changes from the package Tuesday night and debated the percentages of affordability that should be required for developers, eventually landing at 10% affordability at 80% of the Area Medium Income. Additionally, one significant changed included the Council's removal of "new construction" off of the Overlay District's "dimensional table" meaning any new construction or additions to the property would require variances from the city’s Zoning Board. 

The North Shore Community Development Coalition, based in Salem, is presently in talks with the Archidocese of Boston to potentially redevelop two sites included in the ordinance into 100% affordable housing: the Immaculate Conception on Hawthorne Boulevard and St. James Church on Federal Street.

Next Tuesday, March 5th, Mayor Kim Driscoll will also introduce an Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance at a Community Housing Forum set for 7-8:30pm at the Community Life Center (401 Bridge St). This forum will feature a community discussion on housing needs, initiatives and affordability in Salem.

NSAR encourages Salem REALTORS® to attend tonight's Salem City Council meeting in support of this Zoning Overlay District. Please contact Government Affairs Manager Kristian Hoysradt at 978-232-9410 for additional information on tonight's meeting or the proposed ordinance.


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2.26.19 Housing Watch: Plans Unveiled for 180-unit Housing Development at former CinemaWorld Site

At an Open House this past Monday at Salem High School, developers previewed plans for a 180-unit residential and commercial development along Highland Ave in Salem where the CinemaWorld entertainment complex had previously been proposed.

Read more here from The Salem News

"Jefferson Apartment Group, a company headquartered in Virginia, met with area residents at an open house at Salem High School Monday night. It featured a version of the project that is due for revision based on comments, long before anything is filed at City Hall, according to Sandi Silk, Jefferson's senior vice president.

They're proposing to build 180 apartments at 355 to 373 Highland Ave., Silk said. The project would use seven different pieces of property that fall into two zoning districts: business highway, which has one set of limitations and business park development introducing another. Much of the land has already been cleared of trees and buildings to deal with contamination discovered as the CW Theaters proposal was coming together.

Of the 180 units currently proposed, 10 percent — 18 units — would be tagged as affordable for households at 80 percent of the area median income or lower, Silk said. The plans are drawn up to support about 300 parking spaces, a fair chunk of which surround a roughly 6,000-square-foot proposed restaurant front and center on the site.

Neighborhood response was much more favorable than what was heard at cineplex meetings, but criticism still focused heavily on traffic. Easel pad sheets asking for feedback were covered in comments focusing on the issue, while others also raised concerns about water and sewer impact, and whether 18 units of affordable housing was enough for the city."


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