Sunday, October 4, 2020

Affordable Housing Project in 1928 German Baptist Church to Try Again at Postponed Hearing

The proposal for subsidized housing in the 1928 First German Baptist Church on D and Cottage is at the Planning Commission again Tuesday the 6th. Consideration at month's meeting was postponed, and there may yet be elements still in play. So we'll see if it happens. (Previous notes on the Hearing here, and all notes here.)

The older parsonage would get a side wheelchair ramp

Findings from State Historic Preservation Office

There's a short supplemental Staff Report, and it mainly concerns the letter from the State Historic Preservation Office asserting that the project would have an "adverse effect" on the properties, which are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Consequently City Staff have added as a recommended condition of approval a provision for "mitigation."

"Adverse effect" here has a technical meaning, and is not a judgement that the project is awful or anything like that. Its meaning is more narrow. These effects can range from demolition, which we would all agree is very adverse to the property, to minor alterations to a kind of imagined pristine "original integrity." Here, the greater effects seem to be to the parsonage with things like a wheelchair ramp. That's not original, and some will say it ruins the "original integrity" of the building, and others will say it makes that integrity available directly to more people. So there is some interpretive freedom here.

"Mitigation," too has more narrow meanings. You might remember ways that the demolition of the old Winter Street bridge on Shelton Ditch required an interpretive sign, and that the demolition of the old Leslie Junior High will get a video about it. These have seemed very weak kinds of "mitigation" as the word is usually understood.

In the supplemental Staff Report there is no additional public comment, and there is no formal explanation for why the Hearing was postponed and what, if any, new information might change the way people think about the project.

The one new consideration here is the recently completed affordable housing project on Fisher Road.

August 2020

Fisher Road is much less walkable than the Grant Neighborhood, and is less safe and less convenient for low-car and car-free living than Grant.

This is an important reason we should be more open to apartment projects of many kinds (maybe not all kinds, but many kinds) in our close-in neighborhoods. 

Another limit to the proposal in Our Salem:
The delta of 63% vs 69% does not seem very good

If we would like more of our homes to be in and near complete neighborhoods, which in turn will reduce the need for cars and driving and reduce the corresponding carbon pollution, we will need be willing to be more flexible about the advantages of our close-in neighborhoods.

1 comment:

Sarah Owens said...

After a ~2 hour hearing, the motion to "adopt the report" with #8 (trees) deleted ( passed unanimously.