The City Council voted Thursday to create a special subcommittee next year to consider how to rewrite the laws governing the construction of large, dense projects like the controversial Salem Oil & Grease and Salem Suede residential construction.
Several councilors, who described themselves as "agitated" over the approval of these dense projects, took turns criticizing the interpretation that the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals have given to new rules governing the makeup of Planned Urban Districts.
"We are not trying to intimidate the Planning Board. We want to tell them they are misinterpreting the law," said Ward 2 Councilor Michael Sosnowski.
"I would just like to have seen them (Planning Board) say no to one project," said Ward 4 Councilor Jerry Ryan, who lives near the Salem Oil & Grease project.
Ward 7 Councilor Joseph O'Keefe complained that the law, as passed by the council, was changed. When it was passed originally, the law set a definition of a story in a building as 10 feet. That definition was eliminated, he said.
Councilor at Large Tom Furey said he would wager that in five years the councilors, who are agitated now, will think that the Salem Oil & Grease project is "an asset to the city and to the neighborhood."
Council President Joan Lovely said sometimes the Planning Board has to approve larger projects for highly contaminated sites like that of Salem Oil & Grease. A 141-unit apartment complex is proposed for the long-contaminated six-acre site on the North River.