Planning Board Reviews Proposed Changes to Zoning Ordinances

July 31, 2015


by Bob Gibbs

At the Salem Planning Board meeting on July 28, the board reviewed proposed amendments to the town zoning ordinances, which will appear on the town’s warrant at the next election.

Listed below are some of the changes discussed for 2016 Salem zoning warrant articles:

Amendment #1 – Add Maximum Building Height to Town Center District.

To see if the town will vote to adopt amendment #1, as proposed by the planning board, to amend the Salem zoning ordinance as follows:

Add a new Section 309-4:3.5.2 as follows:

4:3.5.1 Zoning dimensions: See Section 2:2.

Building height shall not exceed three stories up to 45 feet.

Amendment #2 – Revise Open Space Requirement in Senior Housing Overlay District.

6:1.6.4 Open Space requirements.

This amendment would change the dimensions of private yards. Private yards would be considered to encompass all property within 15 feet of the dwelling or building.

This amendment will also require at least 50 percent of the required open space must be undisturbed land that remains in its natural state.

Amendment #3 – Revise Septic System Setbacks to Wetlands.

This amendment would require new or enlarged septic systems to be no closer than 75 feet to any wetland.

Amendment #4 – Revise Parking Requirements for Restaurants. This ordinance may change the minimum number of parking spots for restaurants.

Amendment #5 – Combine In-Law and Accessory Apartment Ordinances. This ordinance would more clearly define an In-Law apartment.

Amendment #6 – Adopt Innovation District. Ordinance would allow for a wider range of options for new business that come into Salem.

In  other business, the board unanimously approved 7 to 0 a request by the owners of the CFT Properties subdivision to change property lines.  This allows for the proper distance of buildings and driveways from the property lines of 117 and 119 Millvale Street in the subdivision.

Next, the planning board discussed a letter from the owners of Rockingham Toyota Honda auto dealership on Broadway to locate a 100 foot-tall flag pole displaying the American flag. The flag, when erected, will be dedicated to the veterans of the State of New Hampshire and the nation.  The board gave unanimous approval to this request.

A short discussion, by the board, regarding an ordinance pertaining to the raising of chickens within the town showed a wide range of opinions. Ms. Lang stated that this is a trend among people that want more local eggs and chickens, while Mr. Keller stated that the last thing he wants is to hear chickens from his neighbor’s yards. This is sure to be a topic of discussion in the future.

Back on July 14 at the previous planning board meeting:

The owners of the Hyrize Holdings subdivision on North Main Street requested a waiver that requires that property lines be at right angles to the street line.  The waiver was granted by a vote of 7-0 with conditions.

The developers of the 10 Braemoor Woods site plan requested moving a previously approved carport to an alternate location on the property.  The reason for the move was that the original location of the carport would impact the view of the neighbors.  A question of the new location being mapped as a wetland was discussed, with a written study being introduced indicating the area was not a wetland.  The board approved the move by a vote of 7-0 with conditions.

Birches Academy, a charter school on South Broadway, requested approval to expand to 3,800 square feet on the first floor for a kindergarten.  Discussion by the board and the petitioner focused mostly on the parking situation on the property.  The school representative stated that parking is within the town requirements and that the children being dropped off and picked up at various times of the day and that the parking would not be an issue.

Salem Planning Director Ross Moldoff stated the fire department has approved the plan, although it is concerned about the condition of the fire lane in the rear of the building.  It was stated by the school’s representative that this area was in the process of being repaired.

Salem Planning Board Chairman Edward Declerc brought up the area of the property that has been fenced in for use as a recess area.  Mr. Declerc believes that this area is not an adequate play area and suggested to the school that they look to improve this situation.  The board approved of the plan by a vote of 7-0 with conditions.

There was a preliminary hearing for a two-lot subdivision at 11 Central St. A proposal was presented to the board to subdivide a five-acre parcel that is located on the 50-acre parcel that was recently subdivided from the Rockingham Venture property.  The five-acre parcel proposed is at the southerly end of the 50-acre parcel.  This parcel was previously a part of the Rockingham Park Race Track and is located along South Broadway across from the entrance to the Salem Post Office and the Weathervane Restaurant.

It was stated that the property is to be developed as an auto dealership.  The Ford dealership that is currently in Salem would be moving its Ford dealership to this property.

The board had questions regarding the location and number of entrances onto the property, the change of traffic lights in this area and the issue of the driveways crossing over the rail trail.

The board voted to approve the plan with conditions by a vote of 7-0.

Kurt Meisner, with the Meisner Brem Corporation, representing DHB Homes, LLC, requested a lot line adjustment that is partially on lot 7917 that is owned by Mr. Blodgett of 70 Lawrence Rd.  The plan is a part of a larger plan for the development of over-55 housing along this area of Lawrence Road.  This request is to swap property and to change existing property lines.

The approved the plan with conditions by a 7-0 vote.

For more information regarding the Salem Planning Board go to the town website at