A BIG VICTORY last night.
Thank you to all who wrote the councillors and to those who were able to attend last night’s meeting. It matters.
A big thank-you is proper for Councillors Steve Dibble, Tim Flynn, Arthur Sargent and Elaine Milo. These councillors (despite pressure from the mayor) made it clear they were not prepared to vote for first passage of the ordinance because of the work remaining to be done on it.
Now it will go to committee — as we have asked — , the remaining issues can be solved, and the ordinance can return in a week or two as a healthy proposal, ready for votes.
THIS DELAY WILL MEAN NOTHING FOR THE BUILDINGS, BUT WILL MATTER HUGELY FOR SALEM.
In addition, most councillors agreed with us, as did the mayor (in contrast to her previous position), that the provisions for new construction were MUCH TOO LARGE and should instead be limited by the underlying zoning (that is, should FIT IN with the neighborhood).
A note on the Planning Board:
Remember that this ordinance will give the PB the sole power to approve any proposed development (via Special Permit), and it relies on their sole discretion.
Last night, Councillor McCarthy spoke for a number of his fellow councillors when he said of the PB’s recommendation “I don’t know what they were thinking.” He essentially then advocated for rejecting their recommendation WITH PREJUDICE. (Remember that the PB recommendation undid all the positive changes which resulted from public input and restored the MASSIVE allowances for new construction.)
Now over and over again we have been told with regard to this ordinance “Don’t worry about the VERY permissive language. The PB will make sure nothing bad happens.”
Well if there was one lesson from last night, it was this: The PB’s views are NOT necessarily the same as our elected officials, nor the people they represent. We should NOT take it for granted that the views of unelected members will reflect those of the people at large. And in crafting laws which empower the PB to use its sole discretion, we MUST protect against the worst outcomes.”

Federal Street Neighborhood Association
www.federalstreetsalem.org
federalstreetsalem@gmail.com