FSNA is hosting an informational meeting on the Municipal and Religious Adaptive Reuse Overlay District (MRAROD) this Sunday, Feb. 10, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the First Church, 316 Essex Street, in preparation for the City Council’s taking the matter up again on Thursday, Feb 14. All are welcome to attend, listen and ask questions.

REMINDER: The MRAROD could have profoundly negative impacts on neighborhoods across Salem, including our own.
While the MRAROD’s purported goal of preserving and reusing valuable older buildings has broad support, its provisions for new construction could allow for massive additions and/or freestanding buildings of 5 stories or 55 feet, with 15 times as many units as would be allowed in an R2 neighborhood like ours. In addition, it includes many properties which no one wants to see developed, e.g. Salem Public Library, Old Town Hall, City Hall.
There is much more to be said and understood about the MRAROD.
Important progress had been made during the public hearings, and the Planning Department had responded to criticisms both from the public and from councillors by drafting a very improved MRAROD. However, this progress was entirely reversed the Planning Board in its deliberations (which excluded public input) and subsequent recommendation to the Council. We expect another MRAROD draft will be available soon, and so we will be better able to inform you of precisely what we will be facing.

If you are unable to attend, please voice your concerns to the City Council. Email addresses and a sample letter are included below.

Arthur Sargent’ sargeatlarge74@aol.com; ‘Domingo J. Dominguez’
ddominguez@Salem.com; ‘Elaine Milo’ emilo@Salem.com; ‘Robert McCarthy’ rmccarthy@Salem.com; ‘Christine Madore’ cmadore@Salem.com; ‘Lisa Peterson’ lpeterson@Salem.com; ‘Timothy Flynn’ tflynn@Salem.com; ‘Josh Turiel’ jturiel@Salem.com; ‘Beth Gerard’ bgerard@Salem.com; ‘Steve Dibble’ sdibble@Salem.com; ‘Ilene Simons’ ISimons@Salem.com

SAMPLE LETTER

To City Councillors

I am writing about the Municipal and Religious Adaptive Reuse Overlay District ordinance because I support the reuse of historic buildings, and specifically the three school buildings currently being considered for reuse. However, in its current form, the ordinance should not be passed.
The Planning Board’s recommendations for large 5-story, 55-foot high new construction should not be accepted. The dimensional recommendations are completely out of scale with the neighborhoods where these buildings are located, and the dimensions do not represent the wishes of the many residents who have spoken at the public hearings.
The density that would be allowed for new construction is 15 times (or more) that allowed in the underlying neighborhood zoning and is too high.
Further, the definition of eligibility as presently written is so broad that many potential sites could be included that are not consistent with the intent of the ordinance.
Zoning is complex and long lasting. Please take the time to approve an ordinance that does not potentially create years of unintended consequences.