Debate rages over biggest piece of undeveloped land in Salem

SALEM, Va. – Salem city council heard comments Monday night about a re-zoning request and other measures to greenlight the development of 139 new houses in the area, and not everyone is excited.

There was a large outcry of negative feedback from would-be neighbors.

The development slated for the Simms Farm property, which is the largest piece of un-developed land left in the city.

"It's the last piece of residential development gold in the city of Salem and there's no question -- houses will eventually go here," said WHO SAID THIS. 

But while others say slow down, robert fralin and his company says let's go right now.

"I guess the question for you tonight, is this the time, is this the developer?," said Robert Fralin, developer. "I believe it is, and I understand there will be a lot of opinions about this."

Monday's request is an exception to Salem's density rules for single-family homes and re-zoning to residential.

The developer wants higher density, 139 homes, and that's where people have problems.

"We're not saying don't develop the property, we're just saying let's do it the right way, let's plan it, and let's fix the issues we have no, before we develop," said Eddie Hite, who opposes development. 

The company outlined its project, with homes ranging in price from 250 thousand to half a million dollars.

Traffic and stormwater are the primary concerns, concerns the developer says are mitigated by phasing the project.

"The breakup of these areas, bodes well for phased development, instead of going in and denuding or grading the entire site," said Ben Crew, project consultant. 

But the company explanations weren't enough for the citizens, who say it's nothing but a sales pitch.
They wanted city council to throw the brakes.

"Think of it as maybe the face of a beautiful woman, like Ms. Virginia for instance, and that's the land. and now place a tattoo over her face, just picture that," said Tom Fame, who opposes development. "It might be a wonderful tattoo and well planned out as the presentation shows but it just doesn't belong there." 

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