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SALEM Council remains neutral on plans for apartments



Published: Wed, May 16, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Salem has a new policygoverning municipal officials' providing goods and services to the city.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

SALEM -- Developers will move ahead with efforts to build a $3.5 million apartment complex for the elderly although city council is neither endorsing nor opposing the project.

Council announced its neutral stance at its Tuesday meeting.

The panel was asked last month by the project's developer, Hudson-Hanover Companies of Hudson, to endorse the project.

The project is being considered for approval by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. Hudson-Hanover is seeking federally funded tax credits from the state agency. The credits would allow the company to subsidize rents at the apartment complex.

Reason for neutrality: Councilwoman Nancy Cope, R-at large, said council is adopting a neutral stance on the project because it's concerned it could present traffic problems as vehicles enter and exit the complex, which is proposed for Lexington Avenue near Continental Drive.

Another concern was raised after council researched the availability of housing for seniors in Salem.

Other subsidized senior citizen complexes in the city are full. But there are vacancies in nonsubsizdized housing in the city that has rent comparable to what the Hudson-Hanover development would charge, said Alma Apicella, R-at large.

Cope said she doesn't believe council's neutral position on the project will hamper its getting approved by the housing finance agency.

What's proposed: Hudson-Hanover is proposing to construct a three-story, 50-apartment building, perhaps later this year.

The two-bedroom apartments would be rented to income-qualified people 62 and older for $450 a month. Annual income ceiling for renters would be about $18,000.

Council also enacted a new policy that allows municipal officials and employees with their own businesses to benefit from contracts providing goods and services to the city.

The measure, however, bans members from voting on or unduly influencing such contracts.

Although city officials deny any linkage, the measure's passage follows a recommendation to the city by the state auditor in September to adopt such a policy.

The state's advice followed its scrutiny of a nearly $500,000 1996-98 city hall renovation project.

Auditors scrutinized a claim that thousands of dollars worth of work was awarded to a Salem company formerly owned by a city official.

No findings or referrals to prosecutors resulted from the auditors' probe.

leigh@vindy.com




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