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January 17, 2014

Salem residents concerned about more senior housing

Proposals include two projects on table and 64 new homes

SALEM — Residents are concerned two senior housing projects, which would mean nearly 70 new homes, would overwhelm their neighborhoods.

The Planning Board heard requests Tuesday for two developments that call for 46 single-family homes to be built on Pond Street and an 18 additional homes on Pleasant Street.

The 46 homes at 67-73 and 77 Pond St. are planned by developer Timothy Oriole of Pelham on the former Edward Searles property. The second project at 30 Pleasant St. is proposed by local developer John Swiniarski, town planner Ross Moldoff said.

Both are proposed under the town’s senior housing ordinance. The 15-year-old ordinance’s density requirements allow more homes to be built if they are designated for people 55 and older, Moldoff said.

He estimated four times as many homes could be built on a typical site under the ordinance.

Many communities across the state adopted similar elderly housing ordinances 10 to 15 years ago to serve their senior citizens, according to New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority spokesman Ben Frost. Several projects were built in Windham under the town’s ordinance, community development director Laura Scott said.

Moldoff said the scope of both Salem proposals worries neighbors and he told the Planning Board it should perhaps revisit the measure. Chairman Robert Campbell agreed Wednesday the board may have to take a look at the ordinance.

“I’m not sure the community needs this much senior housing,” he said. “It perhaps provides more density than we want.”

Approximately 20 residents turned out Tuesday to hear the project presentations. The board will continue to review the projects after making a series of recommendations to the applicants.

These are the first senior housing projects to come before the board in several years, Moldoff said. Eight senior housing projects have been approved since voters adopted the ordinance in 1998. There are about a dozen in town.

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