October 1 Salem Oil & Grease (Legacy Park ) Site Planning Meeting

On October 1st at 7:00 pm, the Planning Board will continue its discussion with the public, regarding MLM’s development of the Salem Oil & Grease site, at the City Hall Annex, at 120 Washington Street.

The proposed project includes construction of three multi-family residential buildings totaling 141 units, re-use of an existing 17,000 square foot commercial office building, and associated parking and landscaping.

The meeting is expected to include a site plan review, as well as discussion surrounding the development’s planned unit development special permit and wetlands and flood hazard overlay district special permit.

The Planning Board Needs Your Feedback

Public testimony, opinions and comments are used by the Planning Board and considered as part of their decision-making process.

The Planning Board relies on public comments, to determine both the positive and negative affects a proposed development may have on the surrounding community. The number of public attendees, and the amount of feedback provided by them during public project-specific meetings often indicates to the planning board, the amount of interest – both in support and opposition – of a proposed project or specific aspects of a proposed project.

Therefor it is important to attend this meeting, if you support or oppose the proposed development of the Salem Oil & Grease site or specific aspects of it, and provide your feedback.

Concerns Raised About the Project

Thus far, the Salem Oil & Grease site’s proposed development has raised concerns from neighborhood residents, and councilors including:

High population density

  • At issue is the the percentage of the project’s space allocated for public use, and the site’s planned population density which exceeds Salem’s density restrictions.
  • Zoning bylaw 7.3.3.3 limits residential space of a development within the North River Corridor to 50%, yet the site’s plan seems to indicate a higher percentage of residential use space.
  • A certified city planner among the public attendees calculated the project’s residential use percentage as 91%.
    Legal opinions suggest that intended use of the site’s open space, including driveways, walkways, and landscaping, is open to determination by the Planning Board.
  • Previous City Council legislation providing easements of the application of zoning rules relative to a separate project was interpreted by the planning board as being a precedent for similar easements on others. Subsequently, councilors, not intending those easements to be applied unilaterally, have taken issue with planning board’s application of it to its decision-making on the MLM Salem Oil & Grease project, and are currently in the process of repealing their prior legislation, to prevent its future application to other development within the city.

Height of the structure

  • Residents owning property close to the site have expressed concerns over obstruction of views and breezes, resulting adverse financial affects on renting or selling their own property, and a general dissatisfaction with the height of the project dominating all other neighboring structures.

Traffic

  • The city undertook a traffic study of the entire NRCC corridor, which encompassed the Salem Oil & Grease site, the proposed senior center site, the residential development at 28 Goodhue Street, and the Salem Suede residential development. Traffic is expected to increase substantially from the cumulative developments.
  • Residents have expressed concerns about traffic throughout not only the NRCC corridor, but also the neighboring residential Federal Street and Mack Park neighborhoods, the majority of which were not included in the study area.
  • Residents have expressed opinions that lowering the population density of proposed NRCC developments would be beneficial to reducing the traffic impacts within the corridor and abutting neighborhoods.

Flooding

  • Flood mitigation has also been discussed, as the development plans include altering the North River banks through the site and its bridges.
  • Tidal water levels measured for the project during the particularly dry summer are speculated to not accurately represent the flood potential.
  • Concern is that North River alteration will adversely affect flood mitigation in both Salem and Peabody.

Limited Commercial Space

  • During its history, businesses residing on the Salem Oil & Grease site provided employment to local communities. The redeveloped site plan provides 17,000 sqf of commercial use space, the amount of which many residents have expressed dissatisfaction, citing the city’s need to attract more employers.

More information on this project

  1. North River Corridor Transportation Study:
  2. Legal Opinions on site Zoning and Planning Board Interpretation relative to Legacy Park:
  3. NRCC Plan:
  4. http://www.salem.com/Pages/SalemMA_DPCD/studies

Salem Planning Board Meeting Agendas and Minutes:
http://www.salem.com/Pages/SalemMA_Planning/index

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