Accessory Dwelling Units in Arlington: FAQs

An ADU is a separate, smaller living unit with its own kitchen and bathroom facilities and separate entrance that is included within a larger resident (type 1), attached to a residence (type 2) or located in an accessory (“detached”) structure on the same lot as a main residence (type 3). For a variety of reasons, primarily cost and feasibility, the type 1 ADUs are by far the most common.

Article 43 on Arlington’s warrant for Spring 2021 Town Meeting would allow accessory dwelling units in connectin with single-family dwellings, two-family dwellings and duplex dwellings, as long as the ADUs can conform to dimentional requirements in existing zones (aka R0, R1, R2, B) and all code requirements. These dimensional requirements including setbacks, side yards, height, etc.

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63 Percent in Greater Boston Back Accessory Dwelling Units

from Banker & Tradesman, March 10, 2020: https://www.bankerandtradesman.com/63-percent-in-greater-boston-back-adus/ B&T produced a terrific report on the strong interest across the nation in allowing more ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) . This follows after California recently passed strong “YIMBY” legislation encouraging the developement of ADU’s.

“A new, nationwide survey from real estate website Zillow has found that nearly two-thirds of Boston-area residents want the ability to convert their single-family homes into multifamily units.

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Zoning for Accessory Dwelling Units

by Amy Dain, for Pioneer Institute of Public Policy Research and Smart Growth Alliance, July 2018 (This study updates a 2004-06 study on ADUs by the Pioneer Institute.)

Even in the midst of a housing crisis, zoning laws prohibit most homeowners in cities and towns around Boston from adding accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to their single family houses. An ADU is an apartment within or behind an own- er-occupied single family house that appears from the street to be a single-family as opposed to a two-family house.

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Housing Choices Shape Affordability and Vitality of Town Future

Article 5 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process. Prepared by Barbara Thornton

Residential Uses May Push Out Commercial Uses

The Master Plan will have a distinct section focusing on housing and in Arlington there will be much to decide.  Housing prices in Arlington are among the fastest rising in the region.  According to a recent article in the Boston GLOBE (10-14-14) Arlington median home prices have jumped 15% in the last eight months, to $625,000.  Condo costs per square foot are higher in Arlington than in neighboring Lexington and Winchester. The average condo in Arlington jumped 22% to $433,750.   This is great news for people who already own a home.  But this trend suggests that, without planning for a variety of housing at various prices, the town will lose its economic diversity.  Children born here may not be able to afford to live here as adults.  The creative community of artists and writers now giving the Town identity may be priced out.  Maintaining the economic diversity of its citizens is only one of several housing questions Town residents will consider as the HOUSING section of the Master Plan is developed.

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