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Salem neighbors say senior housing project is too big

SALEM — Some neighbors of a proposed 46-unit senior housing project off Pond Street are concerned the project is too large for the rural neighborhood.

Developers of the proposed Stone Bridge Estates Active Adult Community recently appeared before the Planning Board for a public hearing.

The proposed project is in one of the town’s senior overlay districts, which means it is allowed under the current zoning.

The total area of the property owned by Tim Oriole is more than 25 acres. The area is rurally zoned, which would call for two-acre home lots.

However, under the guidelines of the senior overlay district, the town would allow two houses per acre.

Project engineer Karl Dubay of the Dubay Group said the goal of the developer is to have a high quality, active adult community that would be an asset for the town of Salem.

Under the senior housing guidelines, the individual homes would be owned by people over the age of 55.

The project still needs further engineering reviews before it comes back to the Planning Board for final approvals. Dubay said he and the developer would take the input of the board and the public before coming back for a second public hearing.

“We’re pretty happy with the design,” said Dubay. “We believe it will be an asset to the town and will provide some really good senior housing opportunities.”

Town Planning Director Ross Moldoff said there are some engineering and wetlands issues that will need to be addressed before the project is ready for final approval.

“It’s a big project, and there are some issues we see at the staff level,” he said.

Traffic does not appear to be one of the immediate concerns with the project.

After an initial analysis, town traffic consultant Steve Pernaw said he did not believe the project would change the character of Pond Street. He said the development would generate about 170 total additional trips on Pond Street per day.

Pond Street resident William Quinlan said, however, the project is too large for the rural neighborhood.

“There is still a lot of beautiful land out there,” he said. “Now there are going to be 50 houses in back of my house. Can we knock it down to 30 or 20? Does it have to be 50?”

Several other nearby residents agreed that they would like to see smaller-scale development on the Pond Street property.

Planning Board member Linda Harvey said the town does have to consider the development as proposed because it does meet the guidelines of the town’s senior overlay zoning district.

“We do have to follow the law,” she said.

The Planning Board did agree to hold a second public hearing on the project at a time and date to be determined. Dubay said he hoped to have many of the engineering and review issues taken care of by the time the project comes before the board again.