Monday, March 19, 2012

Latest Fairview Plan Looks More Conventional than Sustainable

When you look up the hill from Pringle Creek Community, you can see there's still lots of the old Fairview campus. In fact, there are two large parcels yet to be developed.

Tuesday night the Planning Commission looks at the refinement plan for the third part of the Fairview Property.

Of the three parts, it looks on the surface to be the most conventional by far, and may not meet the spirit or intent of the master planning.

Of the original parcel, one third is Pringle Creek Community (A on the map) and a second third is Sustainable Fairview Associates (B). The last group with plans is Simpson Hills (C).

The refinement plan is for the upper strip, just above the letter C, of the Simpson Hills parcel, where it abuts the Sustainable Fairview Associates parcel (B).

Alas, the plan is somewhat underwhelming. While the roadways are supposed to be striped with sharrows, the sharrows in this plan look more cosmetic than a vital part of a multimodal neighborhood and considered transportation system.

Three things stand out for transportation:
  • The main entry has a water feature, functioning as a large storm basin, and looks like the entry to a gated or otherwise exclusive community.
  • The commercial cluster looks like a conventional and auto-oriented strip mall.
  • The apartment compound is deployed inside of a suburban loop-road, and is dominated by the parking lot rather than street frontage. There is no street grid or other interconnected road system - the connections are mainly paths and parking lot.
The Fairview Master Plan looks like it was supposed to lead to more of a neo-traditional development, but this refinement plan looks distinctly suburban.

In remarks on the refinement plan, Sustainable Fairview Associates suggested the street plan doesn't meet the intent of the Master Plan, and the City's response is disappointing:

The core of the staff response turns away from a notion of complete streets:
[T]he proposed multi-family developments will incorporate pedestrian connections to sidewalks within the adjacent streetscape, and to off-street multi-use pathways and trails within the western 'green corridor' and the large open space located in the central and northeast portions of the site.
The streets are for cars, the sidewalks and paths are for people, and they should each have a separate system.

But this seems to run against the spirit of the Master Plan, which expresses an intent to integrate and layer systems rather than sort-and-separate them.
FTCR will be developed to promote alternative transportation modes and to avoid dependence on automobiles. The road system throughout the development will support various modes of transportation...Integrated and layered movement systems provide the key and basis for the plan...
Salem has plenty of conventional development. The City of Salem should give that Master Plan a fair trial and square deal.* Is it really necessary to water it down from the start?

* Now, it's true the City is probably in an awkward position, coordinating development that was originally supposed to be conducted by one firm. One former investor who got out has blogged about the parcel in question and about SFA's progress generally. There are lots of tricky questions here, and it is almost certain that compromises will have to be made. Hopefully we aren't at the point where the Master Plan is unbuildable or the concept judged a failure. In the absence of that determination, the Master Plan should be embraced, not evaded.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The Commission continued the matter to April 3rd and asked for a revised plan.