SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 3, 2012

Developer eyes land owned by cemetery

(Continued)

Some have criticized the size of Legacy Park, saying it is too dense for the neighborhood and will bring unwanted traffic and noise.

The developer has argued that it needs to build this much housing to offset the cost of demolishing several large buildings, cleaning up an old factory site and building on a challenging piece of property. Legacy Park will have three four-story apartment buildings, 215 parking spaces and an entrance off Harmony Grove Road.

Several councilors are upset because the project is being done under a zoning amendment they approved several years ago. But the change was made, they say, to encourage business, not residential development.

Ward 4 City Councilor Jerry Ryan, whose district borders the site, opposes the development because he feels it makes an end-run around zoning.

"The intent of business park development (zoning) was to promote business and increase the tax base," he said. "... They're pretty much residential and the business is an afterthought."

The mixed-use development includes commercial space in the former office of Salem Oil & Grease. The additional cemetery land could provide more business opportunities along Harmony Grove Road, Correnti said.

Under the city ordinance, the residential part of this development cannot exceed 50 percent of the site. Currently, the housing and related uses make up 49 percent of the 6.8 acres, according to the developer and city.

This additional cemetery land, about 1.5 acres, could provide some breathing room.

"We've heard clearly from the board this is preferable, so we would be willing to take, as a condition, that we file an amended plan to include this land," said Correnti.

The Planning Board meets again Oct. 18.

Tom Dalton can be reached at tdalton@salemnews.com.

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