Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Proposed Subdivision in South Salem Shows Problem with Single Detached Homes - Updated

With street names like Walton Way, Ramsay Road, Aldridge Avenue, and Drexler Drive, a new subdivision of 138 single detached houses proposed for the field and woods just north of the future Hilfiker Park, between Fairview and Trader Joes basically, appears to aim for a certain sports-loving niche.

Nearly 30 acres into 138 lots for single houses

But the project may not be a slam dunk. 

Its timing may be to ensure that it gets approved before Our Salem is finished, but it represents a missed opportunity in multiple ways. 

At an earlier draft stage of Our Salem, the lot and a band of lots to the south of it were proposed for Multiple Family Residential 2 zoning.

Meyers Parcel proposed in Spring 2021 for RM2

You can see from the red pins that the concept elicited a number of comments in the Spring of 2021.

This generated critique on density and tree loss

Many comments criticized the loss of open space, loss of trees, and prospects for apartments. 

Parts of it are meaningfully forested

A few recognized that this was an area near two major grocery stores, in walking distance of  high frequency transit, and was actually a good place for attached housing and apartments.

The revised proposal in August 2021
retained most of it as RA (notes added)

After weighing the comments, the City appears to have retreated from the upzoning generally, and proposed only one lot around the new park property for RM2 zoning.

In this context, then, is the new proposal to rezone for single detached housing and 138 lots. There is a lot of tree removal in the plan.

So it is interesting that there is no proposal for middle housing on the field and retention of the healthy trees. That seems like an obvious compromise that keeps the tree canopy and also adds more housing.

As with the recent criticism of a subdivision approved for an area with unnamed tributaries of Wilark Brook in west Salem (previously here, and more recently at Salem Reporter), here too our current framework for water and trees, and our cultural preference for single detached homes, together interfere with our interests in sufficient housing and in appropriate stewardship of urban natural resources.

Once we give up our attachment to single detached homes, we can do better on housing, trees, and climate for everybody.

The Meyer Farm proposal goes before the Planning Administrator, and not a formal Public Hearing, with a deadline for comment on October 1st. It may not be possible to redirect it for better housing and tree retention, but at a minimum should be another case study for ways our current framework is not adequate to the exigencies of our housing and climate crises.

Update, Wednesday the 29th

There is a story on the front page today.

It highlights the pastoral, open space themes.

It also has some interesting history news and some unpleasant news about disagreement among heirs:

[Friends of Meyer Farm], created in April 2021, wants to save what it identifies as a historically significant urban farm, which includes an 1854 barn and a 1915 farmhouse. It is the last remaining parcel from Joseph Waldo’s Donation Land Claim of 1852.

Complicating the proposal is the fact that the Henry A. Meyer Revocable Living Trust, which owns the property, has been mired in a trust dispute in Marion County Circuit Court for more than two years. The next scheduled proceeding is a status check hearing on Monday, Oct. 4, in Judge Thomas Hart’s courtroom.

There will be more on the mid-century history of the Meyers in the Sunday paper.

The survey maps show no Waldo DLC

There are also questions about the claim that the land is a remnant of an 1852 Waldo DLC. A 1919 Survey map shows no such DLC. Neither does the 1929 Metsker map, which shows historical DLCs under more contemporary lot divisions. So this claim about a DLC is a little murky on the surface.

Clearly this story will develop and there will be more to say.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Updated with clip from paper and brief comments

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Added link to follow-up note.