Salisbury Council Delays Annexation Decision

SALISBURY — The possible annexation of land near Booth St. received some hesitant interest from the Salisbury Council.

Currently, the area in question contains 100 two-story townhouses on approximately 10 acres of land.

“The property is obsolete,” said Al Gentry, the owner of Cornerstone LLC.

Gentry proposed that the council annex the land so that a new development could be constructed to replace the townhouses. The new development would consist of seven “garden-style” apartment buildings that would contain 168 units total.

However, because of how the property is zoned at the moment, 168 units would not be allowed on only 10 acres, as that would exceed the property’s permissible density. If the city annexed and rezoned the area, however, Gentry’s proposal could be made acceptable.

“What does the timeline look like?” asked Councilmember Deborah Campbell.

“I think we could have a shovel in the ground next spring,” replied Gentry. “Late next spring.”

Gentry explained that his plan was to split the construction into two phases, allowing him to shift the majority of current residents in the target area between old and new buildings, causing only minimum disruption.

“A successful redevelopment of this property would be very good…” admitted Campbell.

However, she claimed that she was worried about the “pieces of the deal that would be required to make this work.”

She cited the ambition of the project, and the difficulty securing tax credits and other funding in the troubled economy.

Council Vice-President Gary Comegys suggested that approval of annexation should hinge on whether Gentry’s company was successful acquiring enough funding. Gentry brought up the fact that there was a catch-22 in effect; in order for him to secure enough funding, he needs to be able to show the government and investors that he already has the council’s approval.

With an estimated $24 million price tag, the project would be an impactful one and the first step would be annexation.

Councilwoman Eugenie Shields recommended that another work session be scheduled for a future date to allow the council time to digest the information and to gather further data. Shields asserted that she was willing to support the annexation but wanted all questions answered.