By Carol Britton Meyer
Work on the new public safety facility at 335 Lincoln St. is progressing.
During a recent update, Project Manager Matthew Hennessy -- who is at the site daily --shared a slide show with the Select Board of how the preliminary work is moving forward.
The project start date was May 15, with the substantial completion date set at Jan 14,
2025, and the final completion date scheduled for March 26, 2025.
The construction process so far includes installation of fencing, temporary utilities, and work trailers, erosion control, removal of soil to the Hingham DPW soil storage facility and removal of the former wood building, concrete slab, and foundation walls, and tree protection.
This was the first project update since the $39.5 million contract was awarded, according to Public Safety Facility Building Committee Chair Bob Garrity. Hingham Police and Fire Department operations will be combined in the building.
According to Garrity, the project is "right on schedule -- so far so good."
Voters at the Nov. 2022 Special Town Meeting approved an appropriation of up to $46.7 million to build and furnish a new public safety facility, with an expected lifespan of 50 to 70 years.
Prior Town Meetings authorized funding totaling $8.6 million for the initial phases of the project, including a site feasibility study, land acquisition, and preliminary design and pre-construction bid documents.
"A lot has happened since May," Select Board Chair Liz Klein said. "It's exciting."
By Carol Britton Meyer
Hingham and other "MBTA communities" have until Dec. 2024 to finalize the adoption of required zoning amendments to bring them into compliance with new legislation enacted as part of the Jan. 2021 economic development bill signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker as a way to address the state's growing housing crisis.
Under the guidelines for this multi-family zoning requirement for communities that have commuter rail, ferry, bus, or subway services, the Town of Hingham is expected to potentially accommodate up to 1,490 units of this type of housing within at least one zoning district of "reasonable size" in which multi-family housing is permitted as of right.
This housing cannot be age-restricted and must be suitable for families with children. While Hingham and other affected communities won't be required to actually build that many units, they must have the potential to do so or risk losing certain significant state grants. There's an ability to include some affordable units, but that is not mandated.
Community Planning Director Emily Wentworth outlined various potential multi-family zoning district locations to the Select Board and Planning Board recently.
Public meetings will be held leading up to the deadline, and Town Meeting will take action on a related proposed warrant article.
By Carol Meyer
The Hingham Climate Action Planning Committee recently presented an overview of its 145-page Climate Action Plan -- the culmination of three years of hard work.
"This is an exciting moment for us," Chair Brad Moyer told the Select Board. "Hingham is a leader in this area on the South Shore. Five years ago, I wouldn't have anticipated that."
He explained the mission of the CAPC and its successor created by Town Meeting -- the Climate Action Commission. The CAPC's charge was to evaluate a wide range of carbon emission reduction strategies and to propose measures to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions by the year 2040 or another feasible target date.
The Climate Action Commission's role is to support, oversee, and report on the progress of the implementation of the town's Climate Action Plan.
Moyer also explained that the plan doesn't obligate anyone to anything, mandate budget expenditures, or supplant normal town and approval processes.
"It's a call to action, making recommendations and asking residents, businesses and non-profits, and town government to consider actions to reduce carbon emissions," he said.
"The plan is "deep, but accessible -- it's digestible." Select Board Chair Liz Klein said she's confident the plan will be implemented and that "it will not sit on a shelf."
By Carol Britton Meyer
The number of Hingham property owners who are taking advantage of the town's property tax relief-focused Senior Means Tested Exemption Program is on the rise.
"It's now in its third year," Assistant Town Administrator for Finance Michelle Monsegur said recently.
There was a 300 percent increase in applications from FY22 to FY23 and a 330 percent increase in applications approved, with a 298 percent increase in total exemptions awarded. This is due in large part to the town's significant past and continuing outreach efforts.
Longtime Hingham residents and property owners who are 65 and older and who qualified for the Massachusetts State Income Tax Refundable Credit known as the Circuit Breaker in Calendar Year 2022 -- and who meet certain income and asset requirements -- may qualify for the program.
Voters at this year's town meeting made this exemption, with a maximum Fiscal Year 2024 benefit of $1,200 as set by the state -- permanent.
Applications are due to the Assessor's Office by Sept. 1, 2023. If eligible, the credit will be applied to Dec. 2023 property tax bills.
The Board of Assessors is hoping that those who have benefitted from the program so far and others who are aware of it will spread the word to other residents who may qualify.
For further information, call the Assessor's Office at (781) 741-1455.
"The staff there can walk citizens through the different [tax relief] programs that are
available," Monsegur said.