POLITICS

Housing Trust Proposes Second Affordable Home On Lot

By Kristen Arute, Published: July 16, 2020
Property owned by the Affordable Housing Trust at 499 Cushing Street [Hingham Current News File Photos / Kristen Arute]

The Affordable Housing Trust is in the beginning stages of proposing a second affordable home on the property at 499 Cushing Street where one affordable unit already sits. The long, narrow parcel which was purchased by the Housing Trust in 2018 for $550,000, is located next door to a private well, abuts an intermittent stream, sits between two potential vernal pools and falls within an area that is replete with wetlands. The existing home is a rental property that the Trust is responsible for managing.

Cavanaro Consulting, a civil engineering consulting firm retained by the Town, has already drafted a plan showing the proposed location of the second home. Board members discussed next steps. "We want to set up a meeting with the neighborhood to introduce the Trust as the owner to the neighbors as well as to introduce them to our idea and plans for the property," said Board member Anita Comerford who is a land use attorney with Sullivan & Comerford, P.C., in Norwell. "That meeting should have Cavanaro present at it to give somewhat of an overview or presentation to the abutters as to how the lot is going to be divided and the plans for the location of another residence on the divided lot."

Comerford went on to say that the preference would be for the Trust to have an onsite meeting; however in-person gatherings are still limited to a maximum of thirty people which may not work. "We've produced an abutters list," she said with a laugh, "and I can tell you there's more than thirty letters going out because it's in a very dense area." She suggested that the Trust could do a Zoom meeting instead but stressed that the meeting "would have a better impact if we could be physically there so people could actually see and understand what's going on with that site." This meeting will likely take place in September. "We have a plan from Cavanaro," Comerford continued. "We just really need to set a date for that meeting so that we can make sure that Cavanaro is available and then post that and get that out to abutters."

There was some discussion among Board members about who would oversee the progress of the project. "The Board of Selectmen has traditionally had a prerequisite that before the Trust seeks their permission to submit a Project Eligibility Application to the DHCD that you hold this neighborhood meeting," said Hingham Senior Planner and Zoning Administrator Emily Wentworth. "I think staff along with your consulting engineer (Cavanaro) and their team could kind of move most of the things forward if we just want someone to provide feedback on behalf of the Trust."

Comerford offered to be the point person, but Chair Tim White stepped in and said that he would take care of it. "I've been working with John (Cavanaro)," said White, "so we'll keep this moving forward, and I'll talk with him about dates."

 

Recently concerns were raised about another affordable housing development in the same section of town. The Housing Trust has proposed working with Habitat for Humanity to construct two homes on a lot where currently there is just one. That proposal is before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). Neighbors have expressed concerns about the impact on wetlands and a potable well, and the Board of Health is refining a letter which they will send to ZBA next week outlining their recommendations for the project.

According to the Town website,

Affordable Housing Trust Board of Trustees (appointed by Selectmen):

  • Al Chambers

  • Gregory Waxman

  • Amy Farrell

  • Nancy Kerber

  • Brittan DuBose

  • Kathleen Amonte

  • Timothy White

  • Michael MacDonald

  • Elizabeth von Pier

  • Joe Fisher, Selectman

Zoning Board of Appeals members:

  • Robyn S. Maguire, Chair

  • Paul K. Healey, Vice-Chair, Clerk

  • Mario Romania Jr., Associate Member

  • Michael Mercurio, Associate Member

  • Joseph Ruccio, Associate Member

  • Andy Touchette, Associate Member

  • David Ullrich, Associate Member

Board of Health members:

  • Peter Bickford - Chair

  • Kirk Shilts D.C - Member

  • Elizabeth Eldredge, M.D. - Member

Kristen can be reached at kristen@hinghamcurrent.com.