VOTE YES on the Alternate Motion on ADUs at Hingham Town Meeting!

Alternate Article 29 addresses Hingham’s housing goals and trusts homeowners to make good decisions.

Please click the “+” signs to read why the alternate motion is better for our community:

  • The Town’s recent Master Plan and Housing Plan, built on community input, stressed the need for increased housing options in Hingham, especially lower-priced rentals. They also prioritize “diversity and inclusiveness in our community” as a shared goal. Hingham residents envision this to be a welcoming town with a culture of belonging. 
  • As the AARP advocates, lifting the family-only restriction would allow more homeowners to use this option to “age in place,” not just those with local family. Wider availability of ADUs would also offer a smaller, more sustainable, and less costly housing option for town workers and others. ADUs respond to the preferences and unique needs of each household, including caregivers and those living with a disability.
  • Our peer towns – including neighbors Cohasset, Scituate, Norwell, Marshfield, and Duxbury – have welcomed ADUs with no family restriction, and they have worked well.

“The recent adoption of an ADU bylaw is a good start and certainly a step in the right direction. However, restricting occupancy to family members largely sidesteps one of the primary purposes and benefits of such units – to provide homeowners with additional income that is particularly important for elderly homeowners, single parents, and others who are spending too much of their income on housing and for whom such income may be critical to remaining in their homes. Also, without the flow of income from the rent of an accessory apartment, some young families or moderate-income households might not be able to afford homeownership.”
Town of Hingham Housing Plan, adopted June 2021, page 90

  • A special permitting process for ADUs allows abutter input to mitigate noise, privacy and light concerns. The process has worked well for the last 5 years, enabling neighbors to have their concerns addressed. This is a stronger safeguard than currently exists for neighbors of new, very large single family homes. Many towns (like Norwell) allow ADUs as of right, without this special permitting process as a safeguard.
  • The homeowner must occupy either the primary residence or the ADU;
  • ADUs are small (max of 875 square feet); architecturally consistent with the residence; and must meet setback requirements
  • Minimum occupancy requirement of six months will prevent short-term rentals
  • Subject to a total cap in number of 2.5% of single family residences

adu bar chart

  • Homeowners should have the right to build or occupy an ADU, whether or not they have local family with housing needs.
  • Owners of a family-occupied ADU shouldn’t lose the value of their investment when the need passes.
  • It is increasingly difficult to define “family;” this gives rise to privacy and enforcement issues
  • We can trust our neighbors to make prudent decisions about the use of their own properties.
  • Whether the occupant is a family member makes no difference to a neighbor’s use and enjoyment of their property, our Town’s character, or use of Town resources.
  • Hingham already allows many comparable uses. For example, homeowners are free to rent their homes (without a requirement, as is the case with ADUs, that they live in them).

“Manifestly, restricting occupancy of single-family housing based generally on the biological or legal relationships between its inhabitants bears no reasonable relationship to the goals of reducing parking and traffic problems, controlling population density and preventing noise and disturbance…”

– NY Court of Appeals, McMinn v. Town of Oyster Bay, 66 N.Y.2d at 549-550

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.

Comparison of Boston-Area Towns

Towns with comparable high property values to Hingham’s almost uniformly permit non-family to occupy ADUs to help address aging-in-place and housing cost concerns (green-shaded towns). Generally, towns that maintain a family restriction (yellow-shaded towns) are not towns Hingham considers benchmark/comparable.

Click on the images to enlarge for easier viewing!

ADUs allowed for non-family


ADUs for family members only


Upcoming Informational Meetings

Questions? Join us at these upcoming informational meetings, open to all:

LIVE: Saturday, April 15 from 10-11:30am: Informational Coffee in the Whiton Room, Hingham Public Library

VIRTUAL: Wednesday, April 19 from 7-8pm: Zoom Information Session
Meeting ID: 849 4792 4935
Passcode: 417903