City of Salem Zoning Board of Appeals
Minutes of Meeting
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
A meeting of the Salem Zoning Board of Appeals (“Salem ZBA”) was held on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 in the third floor conference room at 120 Washington Street, Salem, Massachusetts at 6:30 p.m.
Those present were: Robin Stein (chairperson) Elizabeth Debski, Rebecca Curran, Annie Harris, Steve Pinto (alternate), and Bonnie Belair (alternate). Also present were Building Commissioner Thomas St. Pierre and Amy Lash of the Planning Department.
Members absent: Richard Dionne
A motion was made by Steve Pinto approve the July 18, 2007 meeting minutes, seconded by Robin Stein.
Robin Stein announced that two petitions have requested to withdraw without prejudice. Ms. Stein read the request letters aloud for the following petitions:
· Petition of Joseph Gagnon requesting a Variance from number of stories allowed (2 ½) to allow 3rd floor roof deck for the property located at 13 Columbus Ave [R-1].
Motion made by Beth Debski , seconded by Robin Stein to allow withdrawal, approved (6-0).
· Continued: Petition of Benjamin Richard seeking Variances from number of stories to allow expansion of a third floor dormer for the property located at 30 Hathorne Street Unit 2 [R-2].
Motion made by Annie Harris, seconded by Robin Stein to allow withdrawal. Approved (5-0) -Beth Debski did not take part in the vote.
CONTINUED: Petition of Mary Jinks requesting a Variance from side yard setback to extend existing deck for the property located at 64 TREMONT STREET [R-2].
Petitioner explained that she would like to replace the porches on her home.
Thomas St. Pierre explained that the existing porches are non-conforming and a variance is required for the porches to be torn down and enlarged. He mentioned that there was confusion at first on whether or not the applicant needed to come to the Board of Appeals and the application had to be continued from July, when there wasn’t a quorum.
Robin Stein mentioned that letters of support were submitted by Bill and Ilene Simons (79 School Street), and Ellen Talkowsky (3 Devereaux Ave) and Max Talkowsky (3 Devereaux Ave). Those who spoke at the hearing in support of the petition include Ward 6 City Councilor Paul Prevey, and Ward 7 City Councilor Joseph O’Keefe.
A motion was made by Steve Pinto and seconded by Robin Stein to grant the variance subject to eight (8) standard conditions. The Salem Board of Appeals voted, five (5) in favor (Stein, Debski, Harris, Belair, and Pinto) none (0) opposed.
Petition of Gregory M. Salamido requesting a Variance from number of stories to allow a third floor shed dormer for the property located at 7 CLIFTON AVE [R-1].
Rebecca Curran disclosed that she had received an abutters notice for this property. Robin Stein noted that she would not need to vote because their were enough other eligible members present.
Petitioner Gregory Salamido explained that the Salem Board of Appeals had granted him a variance for an opposing dormer in 2005. He explained that the dormer would provide more space and storage options for his family. The petitioner agreed that he would keep the residence as a single-family residence, and that it could be a condition where he would not be issued a certificate of occupancy until he updated the residence to single family status with the City.
A motion was made by Bonnie Belair, and seconded by Robin Stein to grant the variance subject to eight (8) conditions. The Zoning Board of Appeal voted five (5) in favor (Stein, Debski, Harris, Belair, and Pinto and none (0) opposed.
Petition of Riverview Place LLC requesting Variances from lot area per dwelling unit (7-21 (k), Variance from off street parking requirements 7-21 (l) and 7-3 (g), Variance from number of stories and height of three buildings 7-21 (m)(1), Variance from number of exterior entrances for dwelling units 7-21 (e)(2)(a), Variance of buffer area 7-21(m)(1)(c) at 72 FLINT STREET AND 67-69 & 71 MASON STREET [NRCC].
Attorney Scott Grover presented the petition. He introduced Mike O’Brian, David Walsh, and David Zion, who are leading the redevelopment. He mentioned past development projects they had been involved in. He also introduced the other professional involved in the project- Steve Livermoore of H.H. Morrant, who is the architect, and Jim MacDowell of Eastern Land Survey.
Attorney Grover explained that Mr. O’Brian, Mr. Walsh, and Mr. Zion have entered into a purchase and sale agreement to purchase the two parcels which make up the redevelopment site. One parcel is Salem Suede, the other is the Bonfanti Site.
Attorney Grover explained the location of the site, and that it would be a multi use site in the new North River Canal Corridor zoning district. He said this redevelopment will also have to go through the Planning Board, Design Review Board and Conservation Commission. He said state approval under Chapter 91 would also be necessary.
Attorney Grover explained that they had held a number of meetings with neighbors and City Officials since they had first filed in July. He acknowledged that concerns that have consistently come up include density, traffic, and parking. He said that if the City were to extend Commercial Street, parking on the site would be relocated.
A conceptual drawing of what one of the buildings would look like was presented. Attorney Grover said that their would actually be a reduction in lot coverage from what is their now (80,000 sq. ft existing, 50,000 sq. ft. proposed).
Attorney Grover explained the four requested variances. He mentioned that it would not be possible to meet conflicting conditions of the North River Zoning District- having both townhouses with separate entrances, as well as first floor commercial.
Attorney Grover reviewed the requirements for granting a variance, and why this application requires variances. He said that first, there is hardship due to the environmental clean up costs being about $4 million dollars, which would equal $27,000 per unit. He said the redevelopment would serve the public good by removing an eyesore and safety hazard. $34,000 is the current tax revenue, ten (10) times the tax revenue, approximately $300,000 would be generated by the redevelopment. He said the redevelopment plans do not detract from the intent of the zoning.
The architect, Steve Livermoore described the design. He said the eave height would be 49 ft. above grade, which is the same as what is existing. Bonnie Belair asked if their would be decks. Steve Livermoore answered that they propose Juliet balconies. Steve Pinto asked how many entrance there would be. Steve Livermoore replied that it would be one main entrance per building.
Bonnie Belair asked about the results of the preliminary contamination reports done by SP Engineering . Scott Grover said they were pleased to find out that there are not public safety issues, but for residential use some soil should be removed. He explained that MassDevelopment came to the site and will be providing a loan.
Scott Grover explained that they had also retained Earth Tech to do a traffic study, and that traffic counts would be don on the 2nd Tuesday in September, once school was back in session.
Beth Debski inquired if they had been incontact with the Fire Department. Scott Grover said this would not happen until Site Plan Review and that a Planning Board application had not been filed at this time.
Steve was asked if the parking on Flint Street had been addressed. He said they would be happy to do a residential parking program with extra spaces.
Annie Harris asked Attorney Grover to talk about the easement. The easement would allow the City of Salem to extend commercial street within ten years following approval.
Annie Harris said that it really looks like 5 stories, with some of the underground parking really being above ground. Building Inspector Tom St. Pierre said he would have to look into how a story is defined.
Annie Harris mentioned the success of the Salem Laundry/Derby Loft project, which some of the development team was involved with.
The following members of the public spoke on the points summarized below.
· Ward 6 Councilor Paul Prevey- Described the removal of the building as an opportunity. Feels the proposal exceeds appropriate density. Is concerned about added traffic on Flint Street.
· Jim Treadwell, Ward 6, NRCC Working Group- Provided background for NRCC Master Plan and Zoning. Spoke about relative density saying what is proposed (34 units/acre) is far higher than the density the zoning allows (13 units/acre) and higher than what is existing in the area (8 units/acre). Questioned whether the parking, which is somewhat below the surface is actually a fifth story. Feels that there must be a sensitive transition into what is existing, cited the JPI townhouses as an example. Questioned hardship, saying the purchase price discussed is above the assessed value.
· John Carr, 7 River St, NRCC Working Group- Is scared by the scale and density. Feels the Master Plan does not intend to promote this type of development.
· John Hayes- Concerned about parking and traffic. Wants to see a separate northbound Flint Street.
· Robin Amara, 18 Bar Street- Feels what is proposed is better than what is there. Feels residences will increase revenue of the City and that more people will shop in Salem.
· Pat Donahue, Ward 6, NRCC Working Group- Concerned about density and traffic and feels that the requests for variances are far too excessive.
· Dave Pellitier- Acknowledged that the proposal is a work in progress.
· Liz Bratt, 22 Larchmont- Owns veterinary practice on Commercial Street and feels that there is a housing shortage and that her employees must commute to Salem from other places.
· Martin Dem, 143 Federal St, NRCC Working Group- Wants message to get out that Salem wants development. Feels that the NRCC zoning is a consensus about what people want. Feels that the combination of housing and jobs is a plus. Wants the developer to come in with a by-right project and explain why it won’t work. That would then be the basis to work from.
· (At-Large) Councilor Joan Lovely, 14 Story Street- Feels that the community can support additional rental units. Said that the City Council in the future may have to limit parking on the streets in the area surrounding the proposed redevelopment. Pointed out that other North River projects like Flynntan and Franklin St will be coming in front of the Board of Appeals in the future and asking for zoning relief because of the nature of the projects.
· Betsy Burnes, 22 Beckford St- Wanted to know if the project could go before the Design Review Board before the ZBA voted.
· Beverlie McSwiggin, 30 Japonica St- Said the scale of the building would not compliment the congested area. Would like something that fits better. Feels that office space would provide more revenue and be less of a drain on services.
· Jeannie Pitman, 82 Flint St- Is in favor of the project and says that there have been many problems with the factory over the years.
· Ward 2 Councilor Mike Sosnowski- Supports cleaning up an eyesore, does not support the density. Says that is the Councilors who deal with the repercussions of decisions, not the Board of Appeals. Thinks there is roof for compromise. Thinks the acquisition cost is asking more than the property is worth. Says the cost of school kids will take away any revenue gain.
· Teasie Riley Goggin- Says more information is needed. Too many units are proposed and she would like Salem to remain a quaint seaside community.
· Rich Lapechia, Oak Street- Feels board should wait until there is a traffic study.
The public hearing was closed and the board had a brief concluding discussion. The developers were complimented for their efforts working with the neighborhood. It was decided that it would premature to vote tonight, not knowing how this density would really impact the neighborhood. Many board members requested that the density be lowered before the next meeting and wanted to see more compromise. Board members said a traffic study was needed, Scott Grover said they would have this for the next meeting. A figure of what could be built out as of right was requested. Whether this is truly four stories was questioned. Tom St. Pierre said that the percentage, which is below grade, would determine that and that it would have to be looked at more closely to ensure the right relief is being
requested. Scott Grover suggested that perhaps at the next meeting they could talk more about the financial aspect of the project. Beth Debski questioned whether people wanted all residential or some commercial space- this is a another topic of discussion for the next meeting.
Robin Stein summarized a letter from Councilor Furey in support of the redevelopement, acknowledging the challenges of the sight. A letter of support from Jame Scnlan of 13 Bayview Circle was submitted by Scott Grover.
There being no further business before the Board, a motion to adjourn was made by
Robin Stein, seconded by Steve Pinto and approved 6-0.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:15.
Amy J. Lash
Staff Planner & Salem Zoning Board of Appeals Clerk