Developers, opponents speak out about controversial housing development

Public hearing for development postponed

SALEM, Va. – Supporters and opponents are speaking out about a proposed housing development in Salem.

"Responsible Development" signs line Michael Harmon's street in Salem. Some neighbors are against the proposed development along Diamond Road at the Simms Family Farm property.

R. Fralin Companies, Inc. is requesting to rezone that land to build 150 homes, mostly single family residences and some town homes.

The design plans also dedicate about a third of the property -- nearly 67 acres -- to green space, including walking trails, sidewalks and a community gazebo.

Harmon is not opposed to new development, but he is worried about traffic and water runoff.

"The traffic on this road is getting horrendous," Harmon said. "It's getting dangerous. It'll be worse if they build that many more houses."

R. Fralin Companies released a statement to 10 News that reads, in part: 

 ​​​​"​​Salem City is a very desirable place for new housing and the views from this area of Salem are remarkable.  There are only a certain amount of properties that are designated in the Comprehensive Plan to be residential in the entire region which have access to public utilities."

"A third-party contractor has compiled an in-depth study on traffic and the results clearly show that the roads can more than handle this community. We understand that nobody likes more traffic and it is certain that when the neighborhoods next door were developed, very similar complaints were made. However, the roads can more than handle this community. Stormwater will be handled pursuant to Virginia state stormwater requirements.  Salem City holds developers to a higher standard than does the state so stormwater will be addressed by law and per code."

"Our goal is to be transparent and to stay in parallel with the Comprehensive Plan. We will answer questions factually in a clear way."

"As an adjunct to this, it may be of interest that we've had two community meetings and have adapted our plans to accommodate the suggestions provided by the neighboring communities.  Although we will never make everyone happy, we think we've addressed a lot of the neighbors' concerns."

Harmon is hoping to learn more about the plan and the development's impact.

"There's nothing wrong with a subdivision," Harmon said. "I just hope it's done in a matter where we can accept it and live with it."

The city's planning commission public hearing about the development that was scheduled for Wednesday evening has been moved to Oct. 16 at the Salem Civic Center due to high interest from the public.

About the Author: