Proposed development

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

A proposal to bring a 150-home development to Salem could draw a packed house to a set of hearings Wednesday night.

The project, submitted by R. Fralin Companies Inc., would create a new subdivision on nearly 67 acres of land in south Salem, off Upland Drive.

The property, commonly referred to as the Simms Farm, would need a rezoning and a set of land-use permits to proceed.

The Salem Planning Commission is set to consider the requests and hold public hearings Wednesday. To prepare for the possibility of a big turnout, that meeting was shifted from its usual venue at City Hall to a larger meeting room at the civic center.

Interest in the project has been high as neighbors worry about how the development’s effect on traffic and storm water runoff would be handled.

The compatibility of a cluster of attached housing included in the plans also generated questions among surrounding homeowners.

Jeff Kessel, a neighboring homeowner, said he didn’t object to the site being developed but wanted to know it would be done responsibly.

“We understand it’s going to get developed. It’s a prime piece of real estate,” he said. “It just needs to be done sensibly.”

That means ensuring that the new construction fits with the existing area, Kessel added, and doesn’t degrade traffic safety or other concerns.

The developer has edited its proposal since the plans were first circulated for review. Originally, it was seeking approval for a mix of up to 105 single-family homes and up to 45 attached residential units such as townhomes and patio homes.

In a revised application filed in late August, that cluster was scaled back to 25 units and its location was shifted from the south end of the property, near existing homes, to the northwest end where it would border a swath of open space included in the plans.

The total number of residences across the development would remain at 150, with up to 25 attached homes and up to 125 single-family homes. As proposed, a section of the single-family homes would sit on reduced-size lots.

The subdivision’s primary entrance would connect to the intersection of Westclub Drive and Upland Drive, and a four-way stop would be created at that point.

A secondary entrance would lead to Diamond Road. Initial proposals for two other connection points were eliminated from the plans early on.

At the city’s request, an independent firm reviewed a traffic study submitted by the developer and found the analysis was reasonable and the project shouldn’t erode overall levels of service on connecting roads.

In separate comments, however, the police department, one of several offices asked to review the plans, noted that the new housing would add substantial traffic, including at points with narrow curves. The city eventually might need to consider installing another stoplight or other measure to neighboring Apperson Drive to manage traffic flow along that artery, it added.

In a letter accompanying their application, development representatives wrote that they set out to design a project that would offer a mix of housing choices while complementing existing neighborhoods.

Nearly one-third of the property, or a minimum of 20 acres, would be preserved as open space with walking trails, it continued. Sidewalks, curbs and gutters would be included in the work.

The master plan notes locations for other storm water management infrastructure but the final design of the system would depend on additional engineering and regulatory review, officials wrote. State and local standards would apply.

The planning commission is charged with making recommendations as to whether the rezoning and two land-use permits sought should be approved. Separate hearings will be held on each aspect of the three-part request.

The commission’s recommendations are ultimately forwarded to the city council, and the final decision rests with that body.

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