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GA Blog: Accessory Dwellings

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11.11.19 Mayor Driscoll Adresses Accessory Dwelling Units and Rent Control

Mayor Kim Driscoll appeared on Keller @ Large this weekend addressing directly two seperate housing issues: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Rent Control.

The REALTOR® position has been in favor of ADUs by right as a commonsense way to create housing in developed neighborhoods.

You can watch video of the interview above.





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10.25.19 Salem Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance Fails 6-5


After months of public forums and review by committees, the Salem ADU ordinance has failed final passage by a vote of 6 in favor and 5 against.  The ordinance sought to expand Salem’s current zoning bylaws to allow for an easier pathway to construction of ADUs and allowing more than just relatives to be occupants.

This comes as another example of a majority vote failing the super majority requirement for passage.  Governor Baker has tried to eliminate the super majority requirement for certain zoning changes with his Housing Choice Bill but that bill has not been able to progress through committee.

Salem News has reaction and explanation from many of the city councilors here.


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10.11.19 Salem's Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance Receives First Passage

Last night, Salem’s Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance passed the City Council with an 8 to 3 vote. 

First passage is an important step as the ordinance proceeds forward but does not mark the end of the road.  The ordinance is being sent back to the Ordinance, Licenses, and Legal Affairs (OLLA) sub-committee for a meeting on October 23rd.   If referred back to the City Council from OLLA it would most likely be heard on the City Council’s regular meeting on October 24th.

The ADU ordinance requires a two-thirds supermajority to receive passage, so 8 favorable votes is actually the minimum number of votes needed.  In The Salem News, City Council President Steve Dibble is quoted as saying “I simply voted in favor of this to continue the discussion so the ordinance can be strengthened and the residents can be protected.”  The ordinance has until November 13th to receive second passage

NSAR will continue to keep track of how the ordinance progresses.  Accessory Dwelling Units are a commonsense approach to create housing within existing neighborhoods while also providing low priced housing alternatives that have little or no negative impact on the character of a community.

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10.9.19 Salem ADU Ordinance Gets Positive Recommendation

The Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance in Salem continues to make forward progress as the Planning Board gives its positive recommendation. 

The City Council referred the matter to the Ordinance, License, and Legal Affairs (OLLA) sub-committee on September 12th.  OLLA will have its next meeting tomorrow, Thursday October 10th at 6:30pm, where the ordinance could be voted out of committee for final consideration by the City Council.  The City Council must vote on second passage by November 13th to meet the 90-day statutory requirement for action. 

The OLLA meeting is open to public attendance for a show of support.  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.

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10.9.19 Draft of 5 Year Housing Production Plan to be Presented to City Council


Peabody’s latest 5-Year Housing Production Plan is set to go before the City Council.  A vote will be taken at a later date after the presentation is made.

One of the focuses of the plan is affordable housing. Peabody only has 9.27% of its housing units considered as Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI), of which 78% are rentals and only 2% are ownership units.  This would allow a developer to utilize 40B, a state law which overrides local zoning for the construction of affordable housing.

The plan also notes a growing gap between incomes and housing costs.  The average median household income has only risen around $400 between 2010 and 2017.  In turn the median home value has increased $106,000.  Noting a priority need is more starter homes and options for downsizing

Some strategies, characterized in the plan as preferred by the municipality, include modifying its FALA ordinance (Accessory Dwelling Units), pursuing a 40R/40S smart growth overlay district, the promotion of nontraditional housing models, and changes to the cluster development ordinance among others.

NSAR will be watching for developments and opportunities to comment moving forward.  You can find more information on the plan and the plan itself here.


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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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