Online petition takes aim at Salisbury condo plans

RICHARD K. LODGE/Staff photoThe fields behind 6 Forest Road in Salisbury are the proposed site of a 76-unit condominium complex on 28 acres. 

SALISBURY — A local developer seeks town approval to build a 76-unit condominium complex on Forest Road but more than 300 people have signed an online petition objecting to the 28-acre project.

Steve Paquette has proposed Meadowview at Salisbury at 6 Forest Road.

The project would be built by 6 Forest Road LLC, a Boston-based development company, and feature 57 market rate units (selling for roughly $350,000) as well as 19 affordable housing units (priced between $180,000 and $220,000) that would place it within the state’s 40B housing guidelines.

A comprehensive permit application for the project is before the Zoning Board of Appeals, which delayed a scheduled hearing on the matter because it had yet to receive information from an independent traffic study.

But it would appear that not everyone is delighted with the potential project.

More than 330 people have signed the “Salisbury citizens opposed to dense condo complex at 6 Forest Rd” petition at www.change.org/p/zoning-board-of-appeals-salisbury-citizens-opposed-to-dense-condo-complex-at-6-forrest-rd?redirect=false.

Although the people behind the petition declined to comment directly, the online document states that the proposed project is “inappropriate and incompatible with the goals of the town of Salisbury.”

Salisbury has more than the state-required 10% of its total number of housing units categorized as affordable housing. The petition asks that the Zoning Board of Appeals deny the comprehensive permit application.

“Salisbury has been more than accommodating to affordable housing,” the petition reads. “We are currently over the 10%.”

Paquette said he is aware of the abutters’ concerns and has been meeting with some of the people behind the petition.

“I won’t name names but I am talking to a couple of the more vocal opponents and I’m hoping to get together with them,” Paquette said.

Paquette also said he has more than 25 years of experience with real estate developments in Salisbury, such as The Village at Salisbury Square condominium complex on Beach Road.

He is also the project manager for Big Block Development Group’s $130 million, 235-unit One Oceanfront housing complex project at the corner of Broadway and Oceanfront South.

Paquette said there are concerns beyond the density of the project, such as pedestrian safety in the neighborhood, that he intends to address. 

“The town hired a peer review traffic consultant to look at my traffic study,” Paquette said. “That company has requested additional traffic information, which we are giving them. The data has been collected and the report is being written. I am hoping that, within the next couple of weeks, not only my traffic engineer will be able to present the results but the town’s consultant can comment on it as well.”

Paquette said he does not expect there to be any traffic concerns but he is looking at an alternate plan that would include some density reduction.

“I am waiting for all of this information to be gathered before I make a final decision,” Paquette said. “I would like to talk to a couple of the neighbors about that as well. There is only so much I can do and the project probably would not be reduced to the level that the neighbors would prefer it. But, having been around in Salisbury for 25 years, this is always my goal, to effect a compromise.”

Paquette has an $800,000 purchase-and-sales agreement with the property owners, Freeman and Maureen Condon. Freeman Condon is a member of the Board of Selectmen.

The purchase-and-sales agreement states that if the project is approved for more than 40 units, Paquette will pay the Condons $10,000 more for each additional unit, up to a maximum of 50 units.

Paquette would also pay the Condons an additional $5,000 for each approved unit over 50.

“Knowing full well going in that the density of the project was going to be an item of concern, it just seemed to make sense to work out an agreement in the most equitable way as possible,” Paquette said.

The Zoning Board of Appeals’ next meeting is scheduled for March 23.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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