City board supports Webb zoning change

Planning Board signs off on request, but with several recommendations

The Salem News | By Dustin Luca
September 28, 2016

SALEM — The Planning Board signed off on a rezoning effort that would pave the way for F.W. Webb to get faster and easier approval, but it wasn’t an easy decision for many of the board members to make.

The board voted unanimously at a meeting held Tuesday night to rezone 293 Bridge St. and a sizable piece of 297 Bridge St. into commercial (B4) zoning, a format friendly for business wholesale and automotive uses.

The sites are currently zoned North River Canal Corridor and two-family residential, respectively. The vote followed a presentation before the board and City Council last week.

About a dozen neighbors to the project turned out to the earlier hearing and spoke against the zoning change. More than a dozen neighbors also attended Tuesday night’s meeting, though comment was prohibited since the hearing was closed a week earlier, according to Tom Daniel, the city’s community development director.

The members of the board were also told to disregard any communications they got from neighbors since the hearing closed.

“If you received letters, that can’t be part of the Planning Board’s discussion as well,” Daniel said. “The public hearing was closed.”

Though the topic didn’t come up Tuesday night, the zoning change comes with the added anxiety of the company benefiting from it — plumbing wholesaler F.W. Webb — pulling out of Salem if it isn’t able to expand at its current site. The company prefers a zoning change, saying special permits under current zoning would be too costly and time-intensive an avenue to pursue.

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