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Neighbors concerned over size of Salem Street apartment proposal


  A proposed apartment development at 344 Salem St. will be back before the Zoning Board of Appeals at its October meeting. Last week, the ZBA granted a continuance to the developer of the proposed 25-unit, four-story apartment building.

  Nancy O’Neil, the developer’s attorney, said that following a neighborhood meeting earlier in September there will be revised plans to address concerns raised by some abutters. “Our project architect and engineer are currently in the process of revising the project plans,” O’Neil said.

  Still, even a potential scaled down project could be too much for residents on nearby Clifton Street and Ward 6 City Councillor Richard Serino. Serino said he could not attend the initial ZBA public hearing on the proposal in August and was under the impression that many of the neighbors supported a plan to reduce the size of the apartment building from 30 to 25 units. “Clearly, that was not the case, so had I been here, I would have corrected that record, and as such, I am opposed [to the project] even as it currently stands,” said Serino.

  At the neighborhood meeting in September, Serino said, the residents made it clear that the property at 344 Salem St. has traditionally been the home of a business, such as a mechanic’s shop or a gas station. “It has been a commercial business for the last 50 years or so, and the residents have expressed a desire to keep it, to some degree, to a business and not large-scale apartments,” said Serino.

  While concerns were raised about parking at past meetings, Serino said, the list of issues extends to the size of the building and to development close to a creek that runs behind the property.

  “When I ran for office, I promised myself I would stand by my residents, and as such, I am in opposition,” said Serino. The councillor asked the ZBA not to grant the continuance and to ask that the applicant withdraw the project without prejudice until they could come back with a plan that was more palatable and acceptable to the neighbors.

  Clifton Street resident John Oakes noted that the neighborhood is made up of primarily single-family homes, and he also said he is concerned about building near wetlands. “The wetlands – the creek that runs behind the garage that is there now is part of the Pines River that runs down to Rumney Marsh and Diamond Creek Marsh,” said Oakes.

  O’Neil noted that the plans presented at the community meeting were for 25 units, but that those plans would be revised when the developer comes before the ZBA again on Oct. 26.

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