Friday, Jan. 31
- 95 Lawrence Road Rental Housing Task Force, 8 a.m., Town Hall
- Board of Assessors, 9:30 a.m., Town Hall
Wednesday, Feb. 5
- Conservation Commission, 4 p.m., Town Hall
Slow Progress for Wellfleet Rental Program
Wellfleet won’t be making it any simpler this year to build accessory dwelling units (A.D.U.s), also called mother-in-law apartments.
“But I do feel encouraged,” said Sharon Agger, who helped organize a meeting on Jan. 22 with Stefanie Cox, a consultant and Cape-wide housing advocate, the Wellfleet Local Housing Partnership, and the Wellfleet Planning Board to discuss a potential new A.D.U. bylaw. Cox has recommended the Cape Cod Commission’s model A.D.U. bylaw, which Truro and Provincetown have adopted with slight alterations.
Wellfleet’s planning board and the housing partnership, however, are reluctant to add another bylaw without first trying to strengthen or encourage more use of the current so-called Affordable A.D.U., Agger said.
The major difference between Wellfleet’s current bylaw and the model bylaw is that Wellfleet’s requires rentals to tenants who earn, at most, 120 percent of the area median income — up to $76,920 for one person. The rent charged is also restricted.
Wellfleet’s bylaw encourages homeowner participation by offering a tax break based on the valuation of the A.D.U. But Cox said the well-intended restrictions are not attractive to potential landlords, and thus not working to create more rental housing.
It’s true that Wellfleet’s current bylaw has not been much used. Only about 10 to 15 people have taken advantage of the tax break, as reported in the Provincetown Banner in 2018.
Still, Agger said, the planning board is “rightly concerned” that allowing A.D.U.s without income limits may result in “a loss of the affordable A.D.U.s that we have.”
At the end of the meeting, both boards agreed to work together to find a way to make Wellfleet’s existing bylaw better.
“We’re hoping we can find some incentives or something,” Agger said. “We’re all well aware we have a real problem with affordable housing in Wellfleet and it affects those in the lower economic level.” Agger said people who actually make reasonably good money often still don’t earn enough to buy a home, and there are no places to rent. “These are people we call the missing middle.”
No new bylaws will be ready for town meeting 2020. —K.C. Myers