Since 2018, Hingham has allowed attached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) – or “in-law apartments” – by special permit, limiting their occupancy to homeowners’ family members and caregivers. On April 24th (or possibly April 25th if the meeting goes to two nights), Town Meeting 2023 will consider the special ADU Study Committee’s recommendation to allow detached ADUs (units that are physically separate from the principal residence) as well.
Alternate Article 29 would enact the second key Study Committee recommendation – to allow nonfamily as well as family to occupy ADUs – trusting homeowners to make good decisions about who will share their property. Only the alternate motion supports the Hingham Master Plan goals of encouraging a range of housing types and a more inclusive community.
Hingham, like many Massachusetts communities, has an urgent need to expand and diversify our housing inventory, explicitly identified in the Master Plan and recently adopted Housing Plan. ADUs have historically been recognized as an efficient means to create smaller, more sustainable, less costly housing options, including by the AARP as an alternative for the growing trend of residents looking to age in place. The family restriction limits the value of ADUs as a housing option.