Peterborough Affordable Housing Committee seeks grant to aid accessory dwelling units

  • Affordable Housing Committee discuss their plans to present an AARP grant application to the Select Board on March 7. —STAFF PHOTO BY JOSH LACAILLADE

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/27/2023 2:47:44 PM

A $15,000 AARP grant is up for grabs, and Peterborough's Affordable Housing Committee is hoping to claim it for future housing.

On Friday, Feb. 24, Affordable Housing Committee members met at Town Hall to discuss their plans to present a $15,000 AARP Community Challenge Grant application to the Select Board on March 7 for future accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in town. With the March 15 grant application deadline coming up, the Select Board must review the application before the official submission. 

The grant states the winner of the $15,000 must host a design competition where local architects can submit their plans for ADUs. According to Affordable Housing Committee co-Chair Carol Nelson, if the Select Board approves the application and the town wins the grant, a survey will be sent out to local architects asking what they would like to see in an ADU. 

Under Peterborough’s zoning ordinance, an ADU is “a secondary residential living unit that is created within or is attached to a single-family dwelling or is within a detached structure on the same parcel as the single-family dwelling, is smaller than the principal single family dwelling unit, and that provides independent living facilities for one or more persons, including provisions for sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same parcel of land as the principal dwelling unit it accompanies.” ADUs are allowed by right in all zoning districts that permit single-family dwellings and on parcels where only one existing, legally conforming single-family dwelling exists.

Architects will then be encouraged to submit their ADU plans, which according to Nelson can not exceed 1,000 square feet or 30 percent of the property, whichever is greater. Design submissions will be judged by the selection committee on Sept. 18 based on energy efficiency, infill ability and architectural design that blends into Peterborough’s historic aesthetic.  

During the meeting, Nelson said she’s anticipating a large number of design submissions from local architects.

“We are hoping to get several dozen, minimum,” said Nelson. 

Nelson also said the grant gives local builders an opportunity to showcase their ideas and earn business in Peterborough.

“We are trying to help ADU builders,” said Nelson. “We have to make it easy for them.”

Other members expressed concern about relying on the AARP grant to help local ADU architects.

“There are other things we can do to help architects get business,” said Planning Board Chair Stephanie Hurley. 

If Peterborough wins the grant, the four best plans will undergo a pre-approval process, and if no modifications are made to the original design, the building permit fee will be waived for each plan, saving local homeowners hundreds of dollars. In addition to the waived fees, each of the four winning designs will receive $3,000 for project implementation and rollout.

Nelson said she’s anticipating Peterborough will win the $15,000 AARP grant.

“I’m very confident they will give us a thumbs-up,” said Nelson.


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