By Meg Hibbert
Possibly 2,700 more vehicles on North Broad Street every day, and other potential development impacts are concerns residents are expressing to Salem City Councilmembers.
Opponents have started a petition opposing possible expansion plans on HopeTree green space.
North Broad Street residents Mark Nayden, Chris McCart and James Reinhart spoke at the Nov. 13 meeting during the Citizen Comment portion.
Nayden said preliminary plans for HopeTree property do not meet the city’s Comprehensive Plan objectives of redevelopment compatible with existing and planned residential areas. Some of the possibilities for HopeTree property that have been mentioned are 256 houses and a 7,500 square foot restaurant.
McCart said that in addition to up to a possible 2,700 vehicles per day, she was concerned additional paved parking surfaces would cause even more runoff and additional toilets in potential houses would cause more sewage overloads.
“To be clear, the roads can handle it but the neighborhoods and their livability will be greatly affected, she said.” McCart explained increased traffic and multiple houses built on HopeTree campus land could cause Broad Street houses not to appreciate as much as those in nearby areas, such as Langhorne Place.
She asked Council to consider measures to slow traffic, such as raised crosswalks or even mounting the Historic Broad Street Neighborhood sign in the middle of the street.
Reinhard, who is a psychiatrist, pointed out greenspace is related to better mental health and lower depression.
Although HopeTree leaders submitted a preliminary plan to Salem’s Community Development Department several months ago, no rezoning application has been filed to go before the Salem Planning Commission.
Even if there were no rezoning, HopeTree property could be developed to add up to 40 houses, it has been pointed out.
In other matters before Council Nov. 13, Council:
- Approved higher water and sewer rates, which, Director of Water and Sewer Laredo Robinson said would amount to an average monthly increase of $3.54 per home and $2 for sewer;
- Accepted a $10,000 donation from Degeller Attractions from the Salem Fair. Money would go to the Salem Fire Department to purchase an Emergency Medical Services cart that can lift patients into ambulances;
- Appropriated $57,000 in state aid for the Salem Library to purchase additional books, subscriptions and materials;
- Approved a $151,000 contract to purchase and demolish a house that will allow expansion on the Roanoke River Greenway on West Riverside Drive near the River Rock Restaurant. Frank McGuire of the Greenway Commission thanked the city for moving so quickly to acquire, and pledged to donate $30,000 in Greenway funds for closing and demolition costs.
Council went into a closed session at the end of the meeting, for the purpose of discussing candidates for the next Salem City Manager. No action was expected that night, Mayor Renee Turk told the audience.