Meeting on buffer zone for proposed housing complex set

SALEM – An informal public meeting regarding plans for a possible land conservation district in an area west of a proposed apartment/housing development will be held at 6:15 p.m. Thursday in the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce conference room.

Councilman Dave Nestic announced the meeting Tuesday, saying all council members and members of the city Planning Commission are invited to attend to learn more about the new plans for a portion of the 67.7-acrea parcel the NRP Group of Cleveland has an option to purchase.

NRP officials will be there and officials with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy will be available via phone.

The land to be purchased by NRP borders East Pershing Street, Butcher Road and Cunningham Road, with the western portion to the east of the deadends on Oak Street, Tanglewood, Kennedy and Edgewood drives. The city has been considering rezoning two portions of the property.

The company approached the city last fall with a proposal to construct a three-phase housing development of apartments and single-family homes. Phase I consists of a 120-unit walk-up apartment complex located just south of Pershing Street and southwest of Butcher Road. NRP asked to rezone 6.9 acres of land just south of the East Pershing Street extension to Butcher Road, from C-2 General Commercial to RA Multiple Family, where a portion of Phase I will be located.

The rest of the property is already zoned RA Multiple Family, but another proposal has been presented to rezone 14.3 acres of land 400 feet east of the deadends from RA Multiple Family to RS-2 Single Family Residential. The idea was to create a buffer zone for concerned residents on the deadend streets who didn’t want apartments built right behind them.

In an email sent to fellow council members and city officials, Nestic said “the purpose of the meeting is to discuss with NRP and the Land Conservancy plans to designate the western portion of the land where NRP is proposing development as a land conservation district. NRP will discuss what this means and the Land Conservancy people will be available to answer questions.”

A land conservancy normally protects land from development. Nestic said details about what NRP has planned will be discussed. He explained that he wanted to make sure the information was out there so council members and planning commission members will be prepared for future decisions.

In other business, council approved an ordinance for the issuance of $52 million in tax exempt bonds on behalf of Salem Community Hospital. A public hearing was held before the council meeting, with no one making any comment or speaking out against the bonds.

Attorney Drew Linnenbom of Peck Shaffer, the hospital’s bond counsel, explained the purpose of the proposed financing is to refund bonds issued previously in 2005 and to secure funding for the hospital patient bed tower construction project. The city acts as a conduit and issues the bonds, allowing the hospital to borrow tax exempt and get a lower rate. The city will be under no obligation related to the bonds.

Council also approved an ordinance to increase the starting wage for the recreation supervisor position in the Parks & Recreation Department to $10.87 per hour, with step 2 at $11.30 an hour and step 3 at $11.63 per hour. The position has remained unfilled since last June when the supervisor retired. Anyone hired into the position would revert to step one on the pay scale, which had been set at $7.87 per hour, but will now start at a higher rate.

Parks Supervisor Steve Faber had suggested the increase for the starting rate since it’s a supervisory position and considered second in command at the department. The Parks Commission approved the increase and recommended it to council. The Finance Committee of city council recommended the ordinance.

Council accepted a donation of $2,000 from Walmart for the purchase of paper leaf collection bags for the collection of leaves in the city and expressed its appreciation to the business.

Boy Scouts Troop 2 of United Methodist Church attended the meeting so the members could work on their citizenship in the community merit badge.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at