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League of Women Voters

PLANNING BOARD MEETING 11/1/22 - Observer Report

The following was submitted by the Marblehead League of Women Voters. It is a synopsis of a town meeting in Marblehead. Marblehead Beacon is not responsible for the accuracy of the report and did not edit it prior to publishing.


PLANNING BOARD – November 1, 2022

LWVM Observer – Cathy Marie Michael


Board Members Present: Ed Nilsson, Robert Schaeffner, Steve Leverone

Rebecca Cutting, Town Planner, led the meeting


Agenda item: ADU, Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) meeting in preparation for the November 15th Planning Board public hearing


The Planning Board has been discussing ADUs over a lengthy period. The possibility of bringing two articles to town meeting was initiated after a single draft bylaw was presented by Rebecca at a Planning Board meeting on October 4. One article would cover the creation of an ADU for occupancy by a family member/caregiver. A second article would cover ADUs for other purposes such as supplemental income for a homeowner or creation of a rental unit to serve as "affordable housing". Rebecca presented a draft proposal concerning ADUs for a family member/caregiver. (There was no time to present her draft proposal on the second article due to time constraints.) Toward the end of the meeting there was discussion about revisiting the possibility of covering both scenarios in a single warrant article.


A number of the proposed rules in the draft articles were questioned by the 3 board members present:

  • Owner allowed to construct one additional unit only - not questioned
  • Must be a single dwelling unit, attached or not, with one additional parking spot  - not questioned
  • Must be subordinate in size to main dwelling, no larger than 50% of main dwelling - not questioned
  • Dimensions to be 350-800 sq feet - questioned - why limit max to 800 sq ft?  Let’s change it to 1000 sq. ft.
  • No short-term rentals allowed, no air bnbs allowed - not questioned
  • When tenant or family member vacates the dwelling the kitchen must be removed - questioned - what if someone moves in later on?
  • Draft document said these units, whether attached or not, should be limited to family member or caregiver 
  • In trying to keep ADU’s as a response to Affordable Housing, the draft document said these must be rented at not more than 70% of market rate - Questioned - If one of the benefits of ADU’s is to help cash strapped Seniors, why should the Affordability burden fall on them?
  • The quandary arose - perhaps ADUs are not the answer to affordability.
  • A survey about ADUs was conducted in Summer 2022 on the town website.  A citizen was recognized and gave his view that the survey was not written well nor monitored well.

The public is invited to the public hearing on November 15 where all these questions and more will be discussed by all present