WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2016

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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adults with a Section 8 voucher can live in an accessory apartment attached to their family home, and their parents can receive fair market rent [with restrictions]). FOR OUR TOWNS. McMansions are affecting both the charm and the warmth of our towns. Ninety-five tear-down permits were issued in Wellesley in 2015 alone, and from 2012 to 2015, Wellesley's building department issued an average of 73 per year, according to town data. The situation is similar in Weston. Seniors, whose homes may have become too big for them, do not have to be forced out and sell to a developer if they can live in an accessory apartment, attached to the family home. THE CURRENT LAW. Accessory apartments are not permitted in Wellesley's single residence zoning district. In Weston, a special permit is required. We are advocating that both towns adopt zoning bylaws that would permit accessory apartments for elderly or disabled relatives of the homeowner as a "by-right use." By-right use (also called Use by Right) refers to a property owner's use of property and structures in manners consistent with that which is permissible in the zoning district that the property is located (i.e., the usual setbacks would still apply). A "by-right use" is permitted in a zoning district and therefore not sub- ject to special discretionary review and approval by local government. Wellesley's Planning Board has advised that it is open to consider- ing the zoning change, but would like to do so within the context of the ongoing development of the town's Unified Plan, which is a two- year process that is starting now. We plan to continue discussions in connection with the Unified Plan, and we are also working with other communities, including Winchester, Needham, and Melrose. In addition to the zoning change, efforts are underway to make build- ing the apartments affordable. Bill S. 2202 (formerly S. 708), currently under consideration at the State House, would allow the homeowner to take out a low-cost loan from the state to create an accessory apart- ment of up to two bedrooms, provided that a person with a disability or a senior citizen resides in the new unit. The bill permits family mem- bers and other property owners to obtain a low-cost loan of the lesser of $50,000 or half of the construction costs in the form of a fixed loan. Accessory apartments are not the solution for everyone—we need all sorts of new options to address these growing populations—but they could help. Having multiple generations and those with developmental disabilities woven into our community is a bonus for everyone. We expect accessory apartments to have bi-partisan support, since they allow families to address their own needs and leverage their funds, while creating housing for people, many of whom are extremely low- earning, without appreciably changing the footprint of housing. turn op-ed issues speak up opinion sound off town green my turn op-ed issues speak up opinion sound off town green my turn op-ed issues speak up 44 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | f a l l 2 0 1 6 IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in helping us create alternative housing options in Massachusetts, including accessory apartments, please contact Cathy Boyle at AHPhousing@comcast.net. [ forum ]

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