REAL ESTATE

Old Ship Church To Vote On Sale Of Parish House

By Kristen Arute, Hingham Current Staff; October 5, 2020
Hingham Current News File Photo / Kristen Arute

The Old Ship Church congregation will be holding a Special Parish Meeting on Tuesday, October 13th at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. Members will be voting on whether or not to engage in negotiations with Atlantic Development and the Affordable Housing Trust of Hingham (AHT) for the purpose of selling the Old Ship Parish House property. If approved, the lot would be subdivided. The portion with the Parish House would be sold to Atlantic, and the back portion would be sold to AHT. Proceeds of the sale would go toward constructing a new Parish House next to the Meeting House across the street.

Hingham Current reported on the potential for this arrangement last week and noted that the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) will be voting on an $800,000 request from AHT, something that Planning Board member Judy Sneath voiced a strong opinion in favor of. Nina Wellford, treasurer of Old Ship recently made a statement on a Facebook post in which she said "as soon as we have any definitive plans, we will share those ideas with neighbors and the town." Wellford also reached out to the Current to reiterate the church's position that there were no definitive plans.

Atlantic Development claims to "specialize in providing dynamic, innovative plans designed to stimulate economic growth in the communities we develop." They have done work in Hingham before. Years ago they joined forces with Erickson Living to create Linden Ponds. Their website says that their projects "have led to the creation of thousands of jobs, millions of dollars in new real estate tax revenue for the cities and towns where our projects are located, and increased economic activity for local merchants and businesses." In addition to Linden Ponds, the company has developed Granite Crossing in Quincy and Lowe's Marketplace in West Bridgewater.

 

The Old Ship Parish House is a historic property located in Downtown Hingham. It lies within the Bachelors Row/Pear Tree Hill Local Historic District which is zoned for residential use. Any plans to deviate from the zoned use, like for the purposes of constructing high-density housing, could only be done through a proposal for a 40B development or through a proposal to change the zoning of the district. Any zoning change would need to be approved by Town Meeting. It is unclear what Atlantic would do with the property; however, a Special Town Meeting is tentatively scheduled for November.

The Affordable Housing Trust recently received approval from the Zoning Board to develop a parcel on Whiting Street with Habitat for Humanity in spite of concerns expressed by neighbors and the Board of Health. AHT would use the back portion to expand the Lincoln School Apartments. Lincoln School was purchased by the Town of Hingham in 2008 after a Special Town Meeting authorized it in October of that year. It is managed by the Hingham Affordable Housing Trust and a 5-member board of directors.

A neighborhood group called "ProHingham" has launched a petition to oppose any non-conforming use of the property. "ProHingham opposes any development of the Old Ship Parish House property which would violate the existing single family zoning and historic bylaws," reads the petition. "Nonconforming and inappropriate development would desecrate this historic single family neighborhood, which is in the Bachelor’s Row section of the Lincoln National Register Historic District of lower Main Street."

Articles to be voted on at the Old Ship Church Special Parish Meeting:

Article 1: Will the Parish authorize the Board of Trustees to engage in negotiations for a purchase and sale agreement with Atlantic Development for the sale of 107 Main Street, “the Parish House”, with the intention of using the proceeds to construct a new Parish House to be located next to the Meeting House at 90 Main Street?

 

SUMMARY FOR ARTICLE 1: The Board requests permission from the congregation in order to negotiate the purchase and sale. To pass, it requires a simple majority vote of the voting members present. 

 

Should it pass, the Board will call an additional Special Parish meeting to share, discuss and call on a vote authorizing the Board to sign the purchase and sale. That vote will require a two-thirds (⅔) majority vote of voting members present to pass

 

A “Yes” vote authorizes the Board of Trustees to negotiate the terms of a purchase and sale agreement with Atlantic Development. This would be done in consultation with our legal counsel. By voting yes on this article, the congregation is allowing the Board to enter into negotiations but not authorizing them to sign a purchase and sale agreement. Once the Board has completed the negotiations, an additional Parish vote will be held on whether or not to accept the terms of the purchase and sale agreement.

 

A “No” vote does not authorize the Board of Trustees to negotiate the terms of a purchase and sale agreement with Atlantic Development.  

 

Article 2: Will the Parish authorize the Board of Trustees to engage in negotiations for a purchase and sale agreement with the Affordable Housing Trust for the sale of a portion of the land at 107 Main Street, to allow them to expand the Lincoln School Apartments. 

 

SUMMARY FOR ARTICLE 2: For several years the Affordable Housing Trust has been interested in buying a portion of our property at 107 Main Street in order to expand the Lincoln School Apartments. The Lincoln School Apartments is an affordable housing development for seniors. Supporting affordable housing in Hingham is in line with our Unitarian Universalist values. As a congregation we have had informal conversations about this for a few years.  

 

The Board requests permission from the congregation in order to negotiate the purchase and sale. It requires a simple majority vote of members present, to pass. Should it pass, the Board will call an additional Special Parish meeting to share, discuss and call on a vote authorizing the Board to sign the purchase and sale. That vote will require a two-thirds (⅔) majority of voting members present, to pass.

 

A “Yes” vote authorizes the Board of Trustees to negotiate the terms of a purchase and sale agreement with the Affordable Housing Trust. This would be done in consultation with our legal counsel. By voting yes on this article, the congregation is allowing the Board to enter into negotiations but not authorizing them to sign a purchase and sale agreement. Once the Board has completed the negotiations, an additional Parish vote will be held on whether or not to accept the terms of the purchase and sale agreement.

 

A “No” vote does not authorize the Board of Trustees to negotiate or sign a purchase and sale agreement with the Affordable Housing Trust, at this time.

 

President Janet Asnes, Vice President Virginia Perelson, Treasurer Nina Wellford, Clerk Diane Jordan; 

Trustees: Maureen Butler, Piper Carrillo, Dana Kintigh, Diane Morrison, Virginia Perelson, Christopher Sullivan, Joan Wilson 

Kristen Arute can be reached at kristen@hinghamcurrent.com.