Forest Road, Salisbury, project reduced to 56 units

COURTESY PHOTO. A revised road layout and reduction in size to 56 units of a housing development proposed off Forest Road, Salisbury.

SALISBURY — The number of units may be down but it looks as if the battle over the proposed Meadowview at Salisbury condominium project could go on for a while longer.

Real estate developer Steve Paquette has been seeking a comprehensive permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals to build a condominium complex at 6 Forest Road.

Paquette has a long history of real estate development in Salisbury. The developer built The Village at Salisbury Square condominium complex on Beach Road and he is also the project manager for the Big Block Development Group's $130 million, 235-unit One Oceanfront housing complex project at the corner of Broadway and Oceanfront South.

The proposed Meadowview at Salisbury development on Forest Road started off with a proposed 76 units which were projected to sell for about  $350,000 each. Paquette included 19 affordable units priced between $180,000 to $220,000, placing it within the state's 40B housing guidelines.

But the project has met with opposition from abutters, prompting Paquette to lower the number of units to 64, including 16 affordable housing condominiums last month.

Paquette further lowered the number of units to 56, with 14 affordable units, more recently after Zoning Board of Appeals members Derek DePetrillo and John Schillizzi voiced their concerns during a May 25 meeting over the project being too large.

"I believe in village type neighborhoods," Paquette said. "Obviously, (The Village at Salisbury Square) is an example of that. I also like tight, curvy roads because they slow traffic down. They also give it more of a neighborhood feel. But the town's peer review traffic consultant (Andover-based Vanasse & Associates, Inc.) thought that they were too tight. So that necessitated another change and I also thought I would take a last, good faith attempt to reduce the project's size to a point where I hope it made a difference to board members and neighbors, as well."

Reading-based engineering firm Weston & Sampson also performed a water study on the project.

"Other than a duplex located fairly close to Forest Road, the first units are hundreds of feet away from the street," Paquette said. "The vast majority of the units are very far off site and a lot of the neighbors won't even see them."

Gerrish Road resident Tim Neal has been a vocal opponent of the project and said that 56 units is still too many for his neighborhood.

"It's still not enough (of a reduction) and I don't think he's going to want to go any lower than 40," Neal said. "That is just my assumption."

The proposed project would be built on 28 acres of land owned by Selectmen Freeman Condon and his wife Maureen, with whom Paquette has an $800,000 purchase and sales agreement. According to the agreement, the Condons would be paid an additional $10,000 per unit if the project is approved for more than 40 units, with an additional $5,000 for each unit approved over 50.

Neal said he and a number of his neighbors believe the town did not give them enough time to seek protection from the project from the state Department of Housing and Community Development. They have brought on a lawyer to explore the issue further.

"I still think we have a long road ahead," Neal said.

All of the Zoning Board of Appeals meetings on the matter have been held virtually through the Zoom app. That will change June 22, when the public will be able to attend the meeting in person and voice their thoughts on the project during a meeting which will take place at Town Hall at 7 p.m.

"Any other meetings that will be held over this project will be in-person public hearings," Paquette said. "I believe that we have met all of the requirements necessary to secure a positive vote. I am very confident that, in the end, we will get the vote that we need from the Zoning Board of Appeals."

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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