Full council to take final votes tonight
The Salem News | By Dustin Luca
November 16, 2016
SALEM — After months of heated debate, neighborhood disputes and the near-loss of a highly visible Salem building, the contentious proposed F.W. Webb expansion reaches its final hour before the City Council this week.
F.W. Webb was the sole bidder for the contaminated Universal Steel lot at an auction held Monday, according to Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll. The company purchased the property for the minimum bid allowed, $498,550.
The council’s Committee of the Whole met Wednesday night to take the first of two votes on selling the property to F.W. Webb following the auction. That vote passed unanimously, with nine of the 11 councilors supporting the sale, which came with a long list of deed restrictions protecting neighbors to the property, according to Council President Josh Turiel.
“The restrictions protect the neighborhood against the high-impact uses in (the B-4 business use zoning on the site) that otherwise would be allowed by right, and ensures that the cap will remain in place on the Universal Steel site,” Turiel said after the vote.
The environmental cap has been a particular point of contention in the project, as the parking lot on the Universal Steel site now keeps heavy contamination buried on the site from resurfacing. It was a focus of neighbors rallying against the project in its earliest days.
At the same time, the restrictions do allow some flexibility for F.W. Webb going forward, according to Turiel.
“If allowable uses like artist studios and small office space were something Webb wanted to allow with their unused upper floors, this would support it,” Turiel said. “Other uses in a B-4 remain prohibited.”