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Building owner behind redevelopment addresses council

November 20, 2012
Morning Journal News

SALEM - Scott Cahill, a State Street building owner behind an effort to redevelop the downtown, addressed city council Tuesday about the process being used to put together possible plans.

Called the Salem Downtown Technical Advisory Committee (T. A. C.) Process, he explained how four sub-committees of volunteers with a stake in the downtown will report back to the implementation committee which will make a presentation to council sometime in February

He said the presentation may be in the form of a white paper in which constituents request how to be governed in the downtown, mentioning safety standards and national building codes. He also said they'll offer specifics on what actions may be requested.

A chart he distributed showed three phases, the first being the phase now where the four sub-committees explore what needs to be changed in their areas which include standards, proportion, fiscal and structure evaluation. Next will come implementation and the presentation to council, which could include new ordinances if recommended or increased enforcement of existing ordinances if recommended.

Phase Three would be developing the possible vehicle to construct the changes, such as an LLC, investors and downtown building owners given the opportunity for shares of stock. Phase Four would deal with the possible holding company for the properties after construction, such as a real estate investment trust or REIT.

Cahill said the intent is for a methodology that can be developed to bring back the downtown as a vibrant, fully-occupied downtown.

"Anyone can be a part of this process," he said, noting there's still plenty of time to get involved in meetings.

He invited anyone, whether for or against the idea, to come to some meetings and get involved.

"Be part of the process," he said.

Cahill announced the next T.A.C. meeting is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 4 at Salem Golf Club for open discussion.

Other meetings will follow at 6 p.m. Jan. 8 and 6 p.m. Feb. 5, both at the Salem Golf Club, with public comments encouraged after each of the meetings.

In other business, council held the first reading on an ordinance to amend the language regarding expansion of parking on properties, allowing parking expansion on an existing property instead of only on adjacent properties.

The Rules & Ordinances Committee of city council discussed the issue in a meeting prior to the council meeting, recommending the change to cleanup language in the current ordinance, which does not allow expansion for parking on an existing lot. Committee Chairman Councilman Rick Drummond said an expansion still can't exceed 50 percent of the lot and still requires an applicant to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Councilman Clyde Brown, a member of the committee, said the Board of Zoning Appeals will still have the ability to make recommendations, such as erecting a fence, and neighbors will still be considered for the variance.

The ordinance will now go to the city Planning Commission for review before coming back to council for second and third readings.

Council also approved an ordinance for appropriations and transfers, an ordinance allowing the advertising for bids for miscellaneous items used by the utilities department, such as fire hydrants, iron pipe, water valves and chemicals, and an ordinance to change the starting salary for the chief of police position.

Currently, the starting salary for the chief of police position is $2,104.06 per two-week pay period, which is the same for the fire chief. Police Chief Bob Floor, who's retiring in February, is currently making $2,356.39 per two-week pay period, with the amount increasing to $2,427.08 in January. It would have increased to $2,499.89 per two-week pay period after Jan. 1, 2014.

The new ordinance adjusts the starting salary per two-week pay period to $2,251.34 for the new chief. After one year, the amount will be $2,368, then go to $2,418.37 after the second year and $2,495.49 after the third year. Those will be the same amounts for a new fire chief whenever that occurs.

The civil service exam for the police chief position is scheduled for Dec. 11, with one lieutenant and two sergeants scheduled to take the test. The high scorer will become chief.



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