Accessory Dwellings Limited to Family

            The Marion Affordable Housing Trust discussed a potential Accessory Dwelling Bylaw for the Town of Marion during its January 10 public meeting at the Music Hall.

            “If you look at how this is written, it’s written so as not to promote accessory dwelling,” said Chairperson Terri Santos, who told the members that the Town of Salem gives incentives to create smaller units. “We don’t do that. We, in fact, frown against, in this town, having any type of accessory dwelling.

            “There’s pro and con. It is a way to create some benign, smaller units that aren’t going to … be like 10, 20, 30 units but will create housing.”

            Santos said the main thing to know is that except in the case of family members living in an accessory apartment, each unit has to be listed on the subsidized-housing inventory.

            “If more and more of these units are going to come online, it certainly makes sense to keep them more affordable,” said member Toby Ast, who noted he would like to get more feedback on why Marion resists the idea. “And it might be something good as well for the homeowner, you know, a little bit of extra income. They’re struggling for affordability as well for their primary residence.”

            Member Minhtram Tran noted that other aspects including lot size, and Santos said the maximum unit size is 1,200 square feet. She wondered aloud what happens if a family, for instance, has a parent living in an accessory apartment and then she leaves. What happens to the dwelling?

            Santos said the bylaw is accessible online at

            Earlier in the discussion, member Susan Miller noted that Salem tries to put its housing developments within walking distances of services. “Transportation is a huge factor,” she said.

            Santos said that Marion also has bus service and that the Affordable Housing Trust plays a role in facilitating the arrangement.

            The Affordable Housing Trust also discussed potential proposals for Community Preservation Act funding consideration. According to Ast, who worked many years for an affordable-housing developer, 10% must be distributed for housing-related proposals.

            The last Community Preservation Committee article related to housing was for $45,000 to conduct a feasibility study on the former Lockheed Martin property. Santos said, in Marion, CPA funding requires a specific project, and she asked the membership for ideas.

            Ast said he would attend the CPC meeting scheduled for January 13 and asked how complete a proposal needs to be to qualify for consideration.

            Affordable Housing Trust member Nancy McFadden brought information on what other town’s housing webpages are doing, as Marion looks to improve its own site. The members discussed the need for some technical help.

            The next meeting of the Marion Affordable Housing Trust is scheduled for Tuesday, February 14, at 6:00 pm.

Marion Affordable Housing Trust

By Mick Colageo

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