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Apartment house garage divides Planning Board

SALEM — A debate over the construction of a garage at a Main Street apartment building led to differences of opinion among Planning Board members.

At a recent board meeting, Planning Director Ross Moldoff notified the board that Robert Salemi, the owner of the three-story apartment house, wanted to add a 30-by-30-foot garage to his property.

"He would like to expand the parking and put a garage there," said Moldoff. "Normally, it's not much of an issue to put up a garage."

However, because part of the property is zoned residential and part office/business, Moldoff said he notified the Planning Board to see whether members wanted a site plan for the project. Garages are permitted uses in both districts, he added.

Moldoff said the applicant planned to use the garage to store personal belongings such as old cars and motorcycles and that he understood he could not use the structure for a business.

Board Chairman Robert Campbell said that because part of the property is zoned for business, he wanted to see a site plan for the garage.

"If you put things up in an office/business district, it typically requires a site plan," said Campbell. "A change on the site needs a site plan."

Board member Ron Belanger noted that the board recently approved changes to a business on North Broadway without requiring a site plan.

"I don't think that this is a big deal that he is putting up a garage here," said Belanger. "He's not gong to live in it, and he's not going to work in it."

However, Campbell said the North Broadway building did not include any additional structures in a business zone.

Selectman James Keller said he wasn't as concerned with the site plan as he was with giving abutters an opportunity to express any concerns about the project.

"The question I have is really about due process for the abutters," said Keller. "Whether it is a site plan or under public matters, I think that minimally we need to notify abutters so they can provide the board with input."

Moldoff agreed to notify abutters and bring the project before the board for a public hearing.

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