Article 29: Accessory Dwelling Units in Accessory Buildings Maintaining Familial Occupancy

Example of a Familial ADU within the Exterior of a Historic Barn. The location respects the setbacks from the street, the lot lines and the abutters.

April 21, 2023 By Gary Tondorf-Dick, Hingham Planning Board Majority Position

Dear Hingham Residents,

Please VOTE Yes on Article 29: Accessory Dwelling Units in Detached Accessory Structures Maintaining the Familial Occupancy Restriction.

Article 29-Recommended Motion by the Advisory Committee:
The Recommended Motion by the Advisory Committee majority vote, which adopts the By-law approved by the Planning Board majority vote, expands the existing Accessory Dwelling Unit By-law significantly by permitting detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in an accessory or detached structure and retains the existing family occupancy restriction. The amendment also establishes a minimum six-month term of occupancy for an ADU resident.

An Accessory Dwelling Unit is a self-contained dwelling unit on the same lot as the principal dwelling unit.

The existing Accessory Dwelling Unit By-law allows an Accessory Dwelling Unit by Special Permit issued by the Zoning Board of Appeals attached in the primary residence by special permit and this unit is restricted to occupancy by family members.

The Amended ADU By-law expands the existing ADU By-law to allow a detached ADU as a second self-contained dwelling unit on the same lot as a principal dwelling unit and occupied by a family member.

Only one Accessory dwelling Unit would be allowed on the lot.

Planning Board Public Hearings
The Planning Board heard, at their public hearing, the September 2022 ADU Study Committee Report in October 2022.

The Planning Board took seriously the ADU Study Committee’s recommendation that it consider eliminating the familial restriction. The family restriction was at the center of this public debate and discussion.

To the majority of the members of the Planning Board, that the Study Committee recommended small rental units on existing one-family lots was surprising, potentially problematic, and not in keeping with the overall tenor of the Zoning By-law. The Board was concerned about the effects on neighbors and neighborhoods. It noted that zoning regulations exist in large measure to protect abutters. In the 2018 Planning Board vote to support the existing Accessory Dwelling Unit By-law, the Board recognized that the familial restriction addressed enforcement concerns because it would result in a certain level of self-enforcement.

The Planning Board scheduled four public hearings to review and discuss the Accessory Dwelling Unit By-law. The Planning Board voted 4:1 to forward its recommended ADU By-law to the Advisory Committee. The scope of the Planning Board’s recommended ADU By-law was reviewed at the two Advisory Committee public hearings. The Advisory committee voted 8:6 to recommend Article 29 to Town Meeting. This has been a thorough and professional process and is consistent with the long standing process by the Town to develop Warrant Articles for Town Meeting consideration and vote.

Comments from Hingham Residents received by the Planning Board:
“We are aware that the Accessory Dwelling Unit Study Committee is proposing ADU’s (Accessory Dwelling Units) for rental purposes. Based on reviewing the report that was created by the ADU Study Committee we do not think this is an appropriate choice for Hingham at this juncture. We would be in favor of expanding the existing ADU By-Law to allow Accessory Dwelling Units in existing outbuildings for family occupancy only.”

“Changing the by-law to allow rental Accessory Dwelling Units in Accessory Structures will effect properties in all residential zoning districts and not just the few units that have been suggested. The cap on Accessory Dwelling Units will probably not be enforceable.”

The Planning Board Majority Position-Support the Advisory Committee’s Recommended Article 29.

The Planning Board, in their majority position, has acted with prudence in respect to making any changes that would alter the character of the vast majority of Hingham’s residential neighborhoods.

Please Vote at Town Meeting to support Article 29.

Thank you!
Gary Tondorf-Dick, Hingham Planning Board

Gary Tondorf-Dick

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.