Salem board backs zone change for project

SALEM – The Salem City Planning Commission voted Monday in favor of two ordinances to rezone portions of a 67.7-acre tract where a Cleveland developer plans to build apartments and eventually single-family homes.

Now the ordinances for rezoning will come before city council, which meets tonight at 7 in council chambers at Salem City Hall.

One ordinance is for the rezoning of 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 Residential.

The NRP Group had requested the zone change as part of its proposal to build an $18 million 120-unit walk-up apartment complex for Phase I of the development plan for the 67.7-acre parcel the company has an option to purchase. The apartment complex would be partially located on the 6.9 acres, with the rest on the portion that’s already zoned RA Multiple Family Residential.

The other ordinance, which was initiated by the Salem City Planning Commission with NRP’s blessing, requests the rezoning of 14.3 acres of the 67.7-acre parcel from RA Multiple Family Residential to RS-2 Single Family Residential. The area in question is located about 400 feet east of the deadends of Oak Street, Tanglewood, Kennedy and Edgewood drives and would serve as a buffer zone for residents who had concerns that an apartment complex could end up close to them.

NRP Group Developer Mary Hada said during previous meetings that the company had no plan to develop that section of the property due to a wetlands and the topography of the land. Since then, she has announced plans for the company to seek a conservation easement on 32 acres on the western half of the parcel where the wetlands and a creek are located, to ensure that no development can take place there.

A second phase in NRP’s development plan would consist of 176 walk-up apartments located at the corner of Butcher Road and Cunningham Road. The third phase was described as 50 single family lots, west of Cunningham Road and southwest of Butcher Road extending south to the corporation line. None of the development would take place on the western half of the property in the area slated for the proposed conservation easement.

Hada attended the Planning Commission session, but there was no discussion on the rezoning ordinances.

A resolution in support of the apartment project is on the agenda for tonight’s city council meeting. The resolution will become part of the application package being submitted by NRP for housing tax credits being sought from the state.

In other business, the commission recommended approval of an ordinance to clean up language regarding the expansion of parking lots. City Planning and Zoning Officer Patrick Morrissey explained that the section regarding expansion of a nonconforming use was changed in 1993 for a specific location in the city and only dealt with an adjacent parking lot.

He said it seemed unfair that if a person wanted to expand the parking lot on their property, they couldn’t do it without going to an adjacent lot. He said this ordinance will correct that so a property owner can expand the parking on their own lot. The ordinance had already been recommended by the Rules & Ordinances Committee of City Council, with a first reading by city council and then kicked back to the Planning Commission for a recommendation.

City council must take action for the ordinance to be approved.

The commission also voted to keep the same slate of officers for this year, with John Panezott as chairman, city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst as vice chairman and Barb Loudon as secretary.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at