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Salem set to pursue zoning change for police station site

SALEM — Someday, Salem may build a public safety complex for police, fire, and dispatch services.

Right now, that project is in the earliest of speculative stages, but the Planning Board is going ahead with plans to tighten up zoning at the site of the current police station on Veterans Memorial Parkway in case the town decides to sell the property.

“Selectmen charged me several months ago with researching a combined safety complex,” said Selectman James Keller. “That research continues, and probably after the first of the year I’ll come back to the board with my findings to date with some options with respect to that.”

During discussions about the project, however, Keller said he discovered that the current police station sits in two zones — one commercial and one town center district.

“In chatting with real estate folks and other private entities, it was recommended to me, and I think it makes sense, that if the town should seek at some point in the future to sell that property, the value of the property would be maximized if it was in a single zone.”

By rezoning the entire parcel as a commercial zone, Keller said it would maximize the value for future construction or development.

“Knowing that such rezoning has to go before the town’s people on a ballot ... we are trying to get ahead of the curve,” said Keller.

At a recent meeting, Planning Board members expressed no concerns about a change in zoning and stated they were willing to bring the proposed change before voters in next March’s town election.

Selectmen said they had no issues with the zoning change either.

“I say go for it,” said Selectman Pat Hargreaves. “It’s a win-win, no matter what.”

If the zoning change fails at the ballot, Keller said it would have no effect on the property as it currently

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