To the editor:
I’m responding to the governor’s development plan described in the March 5 Salem News (”Opening the door to growth”). First of all, no one except politicians want to “supercharge housing development” in ouralready overcrowded urban areas. And let’s be honest -who is really going to benefit? HDIP — which gives developers a tax break — is notable for being widely misused to support luxury developments, such as the ritzy new condos being built on the former Salem District Court property. New apartment complexes along the North River that are supposed to be earmarked for affordable, transit-oriented housing are being marketed as luxury apartments. And, the crazy dense development proposed off of Highland Avenue seems to be all about “supercharging” developer profits.
Now Mr. Baker wants Salem to hurry up and pass a recklessly written accessory unit ordinance that, if not carefully crafted, could allow family friendly houses to be chopped up and turned into investment properties. Meanwhile, Swampscott’s accessory unit provision (in Baker’s hometown) is brilliantly protective of its neighborhoods. It contains strong controls to ensure owner occupancy is maintained, with recorded use restrictions and building inspector reviews. Why isn’t Salem worthy of the same zoning protection? And beware Salem — the next zoning plot coming down the road is to also allow “tiny houses” (these are trailers, folks) to be put into every backyard. You aren’t ever going to see a trailer in any Swampscott backyard!
To add insult to injury, there is now legislation in the Statenouse that will allow us to raise local taxes to pay for our own transportation improvements needed as a result of all of this development. So, it looks like “supercharging housing development” will also “supercharge” our local taxes. Salem, beware of Trojan horses coming down the road from Swampscott!
JENNIFER FIRTH Salem