Earlier this year, the Winthrop Town Council reviewed a Planning Commission report on potential responses to the shortage of affordable housing in the town. Among the commission’s recommendations was that the town consider reducing or waiving some development fees for permanently affordable housing, and revisit its fee structure for all developments.
At its meeting last week, the council got a look at a draft resolution that would waive some fees for housing developments by nonprofit organizations, for homes that will be “remain permanently affordable.” Possible exemptions might be for per-lot fees and plan review fees, but not for building permit fees.
Public Works Director Jeff Sarvis recommended that the words “and infrastructure fees” be eliminated because those are separate, substantial costs associated with any development. There would be a “significant impact” to waiving such fees, he said.
A revised resolution will come back the council in the near future for more discussion.
In November 2021, the Town Council adopted a resolution declaring a “housing crisis” and directed the Planning Commission to come up with some ideas for how to address the pressing shortage of affordable housing in the town. The council’s resolution noted that “Solving the crisis must include addressing the spectrum of housing needs; including long-term rentals, seasonal and year-round workforce housing, affordable home ownership, and senior housing.” The resolution also pointed to the need for cooperation with other local organizations and governments that are also working on the housing challenge.
In other business at last week’s meeting, the council:
• approved a special events request from the Winthrop Farmers Market, which will again operate at Mack Lloyd Park on Sundays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The market features locally produced crafts, arts, produce and food.
• considered a request from Winthrop Kiwanis to use the Winthrop Barn’s large space for its weekly meetings, since the group has outgrown the Henhouse Room where it has been meeting. Kiwanis proposed to pay the town $1,000 per year for use of the space. Town Clerk Michelle Gaines said that a more detailed agreement should be drawn up with the help of Town Attorney Scott DeTro, and the council agreed.
• approved a contract with DOH Associates to develop plans for renovating the Winthrop Barn’s indoor and outdoor restrooms, which Sarvis said are in “very poor shape.” He said the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee has allotted funds to support the review of how the bathrooms can be upgraded, and at what cost.