Municipal and Religious Reuse Zoning Amendment UPDATE

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Municipal and religious special Permit background

In May of 2018, the Archdiocese reached out to the City Council to inform the Council they do not have a use for their school buildings at Immaculate Conception and St. James and would like to see the buildings reused as housing.

However, the school buildings at Immaculate Conception and St. James are in zoning districts that do not allow multifamily homes.

The City’s former Council on Aging building at 5 Broad Street has been declared surplus and a developer has been chosen by the City Council to convert the building into housing- this building has the same issue, it is in a zoning district that does not allow multifamily homes.

There is no permitting path in the zoning ordinance to allow the above mentioned buildings to be reconverted into multifamily homes.

The proposed ordinance would allow for old Municipal Buildings and Religious Buildings that are no longer serving their prior use to be adaptively reused into multifamily homes.

The first version of the ordinance proposed an overlay on the zoning map. This version was rejected by the City Council by a vote of 7 in favor and 4 against (a super-majority of 8 favorable votes is necessary to change zoning).

On May 9, 2019 a zoning amendment for a “Municipal and Religious Special Permit” was been submitted to the City Council.

Since the May 7, 2019 submission of the zoning amendment for the Municipal and Religious Reuse Special Permit, the City have been working with members of the community, including Historic Salem Inc., to answer questions and address concerns. On June 12, 2019 Planning Director, Tom Daniel compiled a set of modifications to the ordinance.

On June 17, 2019 a Joint Public Hearing with the Planning Board and the City Council was held in the Council Chamber for the purpose of discussing an Ordinance to Amend an Ordinance Relative to Zoning. The public hearing was closed that night and the matter was referred to the Planning Board for a recommendation.

On June 25, 2019, the Planning Board submitted their positive recommendation to the City Council.

On June 27, 2019, the City Council made a motion to send the “Municipal and Religious Reuse” ordinance to the Ordinance, Licenses and Legal Affairs (OLLA) subcommittee which failed. Subsequently, the City Council voted for reconsideration regarding the motion to send it to the OLLA committee.

On Thursday, July 18, 2019 the City Council tabled the vote on whether to refer the Municipal and Religious Reuse Zoning Amendment to the City Council Subcommittee on Ordinance, Licenses and Legal Affairs until the special City Council meeting on August 1, 2019.

On Thursday, August 1, 2019 the City Council voted to move the ordinance for first passage and sent it to the City Council Subcommittee on Ordinance, Licenses and Legal Affairs.