My View 

Zoning Overlay Will protect our city’s character

By Ty Hapworth

We are united by our desire for historic preservation and affordable housing, we need to take action to ensure both.

March 13, 2019

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This week, the Zoning Overlay ordinance will come before the City Council again.  This ordinance would provide a path to preservation for large religious and municipal structures as affordable and market rate housing.

Historic buildings act as a bridge, connecting us to our past, present and future.  Today, many of Salem’s vacant religious and municipal buildings are under severe threat, as they have been unused and neglected for a generation.  If action is not taken to preserve and reuse these structures, they face imminent decay.

While Mother Nature and neglect threaten some of our historic structures, the housing crisis threatens the future of our entire city.  Dynamic cities generate energy, inspire creativity and bring out the best in their people.  My fear is that if we don’t address the housing crisis proactively, Salem will become too expensive for young families, seniors, artists and immigrant families.  I worry the energy that I experienced when I first moved to Salem will begin to fade.

Salem has much to offer and unite us.  I believe we all seek more vibrant neighborhoods, protection for our historic resources and affordable housing.  Thursday’s vote is an opportunity for preservation and thoughtful growth.  I hope that the City Council will unite to pass the Zoning Overlay.