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8.16.19 Salem Talks Affordability with Accessory Dwelling Units

Last night, the Salem City Council in conjunction with the Planning Board held their second public hearing on the topic of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

The main topic of the night was affordability and specifically if an affordability restriction should be added to the ordinance.  On the subject Mayor Driscoll remarked: “It’s going to be tough for us to put an affordability requirement on an ADU” adding further “the affordability restriction would frankly be difficult for the city to enforce” and the ADUs “don’t really lend themselves to super high rents.”  Public voices echoed these feelings as comments favoring an affordability restriction were in the minority opposed to the units being an avenue to create affordable housing in and of themselves.

Discussion also centered around the cost to create such a unit.  Residents with experience discussed how much it had cost them as well as our own David Friedberg who noted the availability of loans and the ability to generate wealth through equity because of the improvement in the property.

Christine Madore of Ward 2 said that by her count the public sentiment for the ordinance between the two meetings had been overwhelming positive at 77% speaking in favor.

The ordinance will now head to the Planning Board for their review.

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8.15.19 HUD Unveils Long Awaited FHA Condo Rules

Today, the Housing and Urban Development Department published their public documents changing the financing of condos under FHA.  The new regulations are aimed to make it significantly less difficult to purchase a condo with an FHA loan.

These rules will take effect October 15th 2019 and hold three specific changes as well as noting the minimum owner occupancy percentage as 50%.  First, in a building of 10 or more condo units an individual unit may be eligible for spot approval if the entire building does not exceed the 10% FHA-insured threshold.  Second, the length of time an approved condo project is certified for has been extended from two years to three years.  Third, in mixed-use buildings commercial space can now take up to 35% of the total square footage.

These changes come after over a decade of being championed by the National Association of REALTORS®.  Of the changes, NAR President John Smaby said “We are thrilled that Secretary Carson has taken this much-needed step to put the American dream within reach for thousands of additional families.”

You can find the document itself here at the Federal Register and NAR’s press release here.

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8.15.19 Salem Continues Public Hearings On Accessory Dwelling Units

Tonight, Salem continues public hearings on the topic of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).  The proposal, being heard in public for a second time, would expand the current ordinance to no longer require a special permit (if compliant), no longer be restricted by residential zone, no longer have tenant restrictions, prohibit short-term rentals, and require owner occupancy for a minimum of 2 years.

Allowing ADUs by right (as in not requiring a special permit) has been a growing trend within Massachusetts, including Rockport who has adopted it.  ADUs provide units that can be integrated into existing single family neighborhoods to provide low priced housing alternatives that have little or no negative impact on the character of the neighborhood.

The meeting is set to begin at 7:00pm in City Council Chambers at City Hall, 93 Washington Street 2nd Floor in Salem.

Further updates will be reported as discussions progress.

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8.13.19 Municipal and Religious Overlay District Moves to Subcommittee

 

On August 1st, Salem City Council voted 9-1 to move the Municipal and Religious Overlay District to the Ordinance, Licenses, and Legal Affairs subcommittee.  This is a large step forward for the proposal, which had previously failed first passage and then failed immediate reconsideration.

To move the ordinance forward, an amendment was attached that mandated at least 10% of developed units to be affordable housing at 80% area median income.  Three of the buildings that would fall under this overlay have proposals contingent on the passage of the ordinance.  Each already meets or exceeds the 10% requirement and Mayor Driscoll noted it “should not pose a problem.”

Next for the ordinance is passage through the Ordinance, Licenses, and Legal Affairs subcommittee.  The meeting date scheduled for the ordinance is September 5th.  If it passes through subcommittee final passage would need to be done by September 15th.

You can read more about the August 1st meeting here.

 

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7.30.19 HUD Puts Down Payment Assistance Rule Change on Suspension

 

Following a federal judge ruling in Utah, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a notice to lenders that a rule change HUD made to down payment assistance guidelines in April is being put on suspension until further notice.

The initial April change stated that “a legal opinion” must be obtained for Governmental down payment assistance such that “the Governmental Entity is a federally recognized Indian Tribe operating on tribal land in which the Property is located or to enrolled members of the tribe.”

The lawsuit opposing the HUD change claims that it “unlawfully targets American Indian tribes and bands by prohibiting them from participating in home purchasing assistance programs and thus threatens a critical source of revenue for the Cedar Band” and furthermore it was adopted without proper notice.

The policy in broader terms focused on Governmental Entities having jurisdiction over the area where the property is located.

 

You can read more about this issue on HousingWire and NAHBNow.

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7.30.19 Manchester-By-The-Sea Continues Re-Codification

 

Manchester-by-the-Sea is making progress on the re-codification of its zoning bylaws.  This is following the Master Plan recommendation which stated: "A full zoning bylaw review and revision would allow the Town an opportunity to make the regulations easier to understand and administer and align zoning regulations with current land use goals, best practices and municipal capacity."

The next meeting is scheduled for September 11th and the public is welcome to attend. This meeting will focus on the creation a use table for each district.  Town Planner Sue Brown stated that there were no plans to change the district lines themselves and also added she would like to include new language in the zoning bylaws to allow more diverse housing options.

 

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