The bill would also require that tiny homes of no more than 600 square feet be permitted in communities that permit accessory dwelling units, and create a local option that would allow a property tax exemption for units that are occupied year-round and rented on a yearly basis for no more than 150 percent of the fair market rent.
Housing specialist Tucker Holland said the state's housing crisis may be at its most severe on the small island, where the average home price exceeds $2 million.
The bill would also direct the Department of Housing and Community Development to give "special consideration" to counting certain otherwise unqualified projects as part of a municipality's subsidized housing inventory such as Nantucket's covenant housing program. Under the Covenant Program, a property owner is able to subdivide their lot, as long as a permanent affordability restriction is recorded on the deed and sold to an income-qualified, year-round resident.
According to Housing Nantucket Executive Director Anne Kuszpa, two-thirds of the island's housing is occupied seasonally. "There's an urgent demand for affordable housing at all income levels," Kuszpa said.
From the Energy Office: The 2017 Stretch Energy Code
Massachusetts gives communities two options for their building energy code – a base energy code or an optional stretch energy code (“Stretch Code”). Towns can choose to adopt the Stretch Code by Town Meeting vote and it can be rescinded by Town Meeting vote. Designation as a “Massachusetts Green Community” requires Town Meeting adoption of the Stretch Code.
On January 1, 2017, both the Base Energy Code and the Stretch Energy Code were updated. The differences between the two are now much less than in the past. Basically, to comply with the Stretch Code, new residential construction must follow the Performance Path of the Base Code rather than the Prescriptive Path. It is worth noting that all additions, renovations, and repairs to residential buildings are explicitly exempt from the Stretch Code. Also, smaller, new commercial buildings as well as additions, renovations and repairs of commercial buildings are exempt.
The Stretch Code is performance based. It requires new homes to meet a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) index rating target of 55, rather than requiring the installation of specific levels of energy efficiency for each building element (e.g. windows, wall insulation, roof insulation, furnace etc.). The HERS rating is a measure based on a home’s total expected energy use and overall efficiency. It is calculated by a certified HERS rater using accredited software, which calculates the annual energy needs of the home to give it a customized rating score.
Under the Stretch Code, builders have the flexibility to choose how to design the home to meet the HERS rating target. HERS Raters help to ensure that homes are built well and perform as designed. Many builders say that the energy efficiency trade-off system makes it easier to construct a Stretch Code home than a Base Energy Code home.
Under the Stretch Code, there will be additional upfront costs, primarily for HERS Rater services, which include: testing for air leakage, inspecting insulation, and testing of ventilation and all ductwork for quality assurances. This cost is generally in the $1,200 - $3,500 range for residences. Diagnostic testing by a third party is part of today’s code. Adopting the Stretch Code affords builders and homeowners a Mass Save incentive, in the range of $900-$4,500, to offset these built-in costs.
In 2018, over half of the new construction permits issued on Nantucket were built in association with a HERS Rater. Most new construction projects on Nantucket already meet Stretch Code standards.
Adopted at the 2019 annual town meeting, the Stretch Code takes effect in Nantucket on September 1, 2019. Currently 250 out of 351 communities have adopted the Stretch Code, representing 70% of Massachusetts municipalities.