After months of tug-of-war, there are indications that a proposed “Fairview Sustainable” development in South Salem may in fact become more like the green, diverse and integrated project it was originally intended to be.
Citizen action from Morningside Neighborhood Association (MNA,) Sustainable Fairview Associates and others seem to have convinced developer Simpson Hills LLC and the City of Salem to upgrade and “greenify” Simpson Hill’s development proposal that has been a source of conflict.
The mood is cautious optimism for those supporting integrated building in our community.
The conflict has focused on a recent plan for 440 conventional apartment units to be built on 43 acres of an area (Fairview Sustainable) set aside in 2008 by the City. In 2008 a Master Plan required any building here to reflect green building principles. Earlier this year, Salem’s Planning Commission voted to approve Simpson Hill’s project despite neighborhood objections that the plan did not reflect the Master Plan.
Architect Geoff James, a MNA member who has been an opponent of the Simpson Hills plans so far says that, although there are still basic “sustainable” attributes that continue to be ignored, “The developers have substantially redesigned the proposal and have addressed many of our concerns… so we’ve achieved a lot.”
His group has received word that Simpson Hills has asked the City for another month continuance before presenting its new proposal, and will probably make its presentation at the August 13th City Council meeting. James and friends are waiting with interest to see the new draft plan. James Santana, an allied proponent for green development, cautions, “While we have finally seen some improvement, it is still a far cry from a national model for sustainable development…. There are still a lot of unanswered questions and we haven’t actually seen a draft plan yet — just concepts and some drawings.”
Time will tell how close the two sides will come, and how much the development will ultimately reflect the Master Plan’s concept of sustainability. Meanwhile, Santana reflects, “clearly the community voice has been effective in changing the course of history on this property thus far.”