Proposed development

The proposed development site, commonly referred to as Simms Farm, covers nearly 67 acres of land in south Salem.

A closely watched residential development proposal in Salem has been revamped again to lower the number of homes envisioned and eliminate a group of attached housing.

R. Fralin Companies Inc. is now seeking approval to build 139 single-family homes on nearly 67 acres of land commonly referred to as the Simms Farm, according to an updated application filed with the city.

Originally, the plans were designed to span 150 homes including 45 attached town homes or patio homes.

Attention on the project has been high as neighbors wondered how the large development would affect traffic and stormwater runoff. The compatibility of the attached housing also was questioned.

Amid the community debate, the development company revised its design once before to reduce the number of attached units in favor of raising the ratio of single-family homes. Some of those homes would have been placed on reduced-size lots to fit the plans.

Now, in another round of revisions, the company has scaled back to a total of 139 homes with no attached housing included.

Most of the homes would sit on standard lots. Forty-three units, or approximately 30% of the houses, would have slightly reduced lots.

Those homes would be capped at 1.5 stories in height and would have minimum lot sizes of at least 6,000 square feet, according to the proffers.

The side yard setbacks would follow the standard dimensions for a single-family lot, officials said.

The developer also offered to restrict the hours of construction and added images of the architectural styles that it envisions using.

The project still anticipates creating two entry points. The primary entrance would connect to the intersection of Upland Drive and Westclub Drive. A four-way stop would be established there.

A second entrance would connect to Diamond Road.

The plans identify sites for stormwater infrastructure but officials noted the final design of those systems would depend on additional engineering work and regulatory requirements.

The project also still includes a swath of dedicated open space with walking trails. The revised application promises a minimum of 18 acres of open space where earlier drafts set the threshold at 20 acres.

But city officials said the amount of planned space actually remains the same. The revised figure in the documents reflects a change in the requirements triggered as the size of the development shifted.

But the set-asides for open space didn’t shrink in the submitted plans.

In order to move forward, R. Fralin Companies would need the city council to rezone the land for residential use. The bulk of the property currently carries agricultural zoning.

A special exception permit also would be needed to approve the proposed lot sizes.

Those requests are now pending before the Salem Planning Commission. The commission is slated to take up the proposal and convene a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The meeting venue has been moved to the Salem Civic Center, which offers a larger community meeting room, to accommodate the strong turnout that could be generated.

The planning commission is charged with making a recommendation on the rezoning and permit application.

That recommendation is then forwarded to the city council for review, and the final decision rests with that body.

The city council is currently scheduled to consider the matter and hold another public hearing Oct. 28.

Residents with longer or more detailed comments about the development proposal have the option of sharing their thoughts in writing so they can be fully reviewed by the planning commission and city council.

Written comments can be submitted in advance via City Planner Ben Tripp at or in person the night of a public hearing.

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