By Meg Hibbert
Salem City Council voted down one special exception application Monday night and passed another by a split vote. Zoning requests filled almost an hour, with applicants and neighbors presenting pros and cons.
Barker Salem Homes wants to build a two-family home at 10 School Lane, demolishing and replacing a dilapidated house boarded up there now.
Two neighbors spoke against the request, and another spoke in favor. Lewis Barker attempted to reassure neighbors by explaining his company wants to demolish the existing house and build a duplex with driveways off White Oak rather than School Lane.
Two spoke against the request. Neighbor Faye Curren gave an impassioned plea asking Council to deny, saying “There are too many rentals now which is having a negative effect on the neighborhood.”
She added, “Properties are being rented to people getting out of jail, drug abusers and sex offenders. The Salem Police Department visited 13 School Lane several times a week until those renters moved…We are asking Council to do what is best for homeowners and not the applicant.”
School Lane neighbor Larry Litford also asked for denial, and for School Lane to be made one way because it is too narrow for two-way traffic.
The vote to approve the special exception request with conditions for parking and access to be from White Oak was 4-1, with Councilman John Saunders dissenting. Saunders attended the meeting remotely, due to illness.
Another request, by Barry and Tina Gladden, was denied by Council on a 3-2 vote. The couple had asked to take down an existing attached steel garage and build a 26 by 48-foot, three-car garage next to their home on Palmer Avenue at Mulberry. The Salem Planning Commission had recommended denial.
Barry Gladden said he wanted to improve the property with a $50,000 investment, and had already purchased the building. The garage would be separate from the house, and would front on Mulberry, he said.
Neighbor Liz Bowles spoke against the request, saying she was concerned the area was getting a lot of garages. “I don’t want our area to look like Fourth Street,” she said.
Councilman Bill Jones asked Barry Gladden for clarification that he would not be doing welding at that garage, and Gladden said he would not.
Votes to deny were by Mayor Renee Turk, Vice Mayor Jim Wallace and Councilman Saunders, with Councilmen Randy Foley and Jones voting in favor.
Council set the date of Sept. 12 as a public hearing on appointments for two school board seats. Applications must be turned by that date, Foley emphasized. The two seats are now filled by Andy Raines and Article Ledbetter, who can apply for additional terms. School Board seats in Salem are appointed by Council, rather than elected.
The meeting that began at 6:30 ended at 7:27 p.m.