Today the Salem City Council has a choice to make: preserve cutting-edge Green zoning requirements for the highly touted Sustainable Fairview mixed use development, or show once again why Oregon's capital deserves it's nickname, "So-lame."
I'm not wildly optimistic, given the Salem Planning Commission's disappointing go-ahead to Simpson Hills, LLC that would allow it to build a bunch of average apartments on what should be an exceptional piece of property.
But if the City Council listens to those in the know, as opposed to those with the biggest short-term profit motive, it will stick with the Sustainable Fairview Master Plan.
1000 Friends of Oregon urges, "Salem Should Keep Sustainable Fairview VIsion Intact."
A flawed proposal can sink a whole vision. That's the case in Salem, where a proposed multifamily housing development seeks to sidestep an innovative, sustainable plan that local residents developed several years ago. The proposal will soon go before City Council, and local advocates are urging the Council to stick to the vision already adopted.
When the City of Salem adopted the visionary Fairview Master Plan in 2005, it was the product of a community with big ideas. It proposed a livable, sustainable future that garnered praise locally and around the country for its creative and productive reuse of a unique large parcel in the middle of a city. “Salem may get used to seeing its name on magazine covers for some time,” crowed the Statesman-Journal editorial board at the time.
Just seven years later, the City has a decision to make: whether to keep to the vision and the potential of that citizen-created plan, or to follow a bland path that it will undoubtedly later regret. 1000 Friends of Oregon hopes the City will choose to stay on the course its citizens so boldly laid in the Fairview Master Plan.
...The nearby Pringle Creek Community, on a different portion of the Fairview site, is a faithful expression of that vision, and has been rightly praised for its accomplishments. But Simpson Hills, citing insufficiently proven constraints on its portion of the site, claims that many of these same principles should be set aside to build utterly indistinctive apartment housing that might be seen anywhere in the country.
Local neighborhood associations, businesspeople, and advocates reject the idea that Salem should embrace blandness and walk away from the community’s vision expressed in the Fairview Master Plan. 1000 Friends of Oregon agrees.
Quality matters. This site can only be developed once. If Salem gets this right, it will set the tone for its own future as a livable and sustainable place, and those magazine covers will keep coming, as will creative and talented residents who will help the city’s economy and culture thrive.
And Salem Breakfast on Bikes has another good overview of what's wrong with the Simpson HIlls, LLC attempt to de-Green Sustainable Fairview.
On Monday, in an appeal on a Planning Commission decision, Council returns to the matter of the third Fairview refinement plan. (For background and analysis see here, here, and here.) The lead images from the plans, though, tell quite a bit of the story in a visual shorthand. The refinement plan strays significantly from the Master Plan and Council will have to decide how much straying should be permitted and, even, whether to construe the refinement plan as "straying."