Enabling more year-round housing

Sun, 10/09/2022 - 12:15pm

The Town Council will hold a public hearing on October 19 on changes proposed by the Planning Board to sections of the Zoning Ordinances governing accessory apartments. Included are sections 202 of Article 2 (definitions), section 405 of Article 4 on affordable housing, and section 513 of Article 5 on accessory apartments.
The Planning Board has spent several months tweaking the ordinances in order to encourage more homeowners to provide year-round housing to residents.
Throughout the sections, a major change is to delete the word “apartment” and substitute it with “dwelling unit.” In the definitions section, language requiring the dwelling unit be within an existing structure is struck out, and new language allows for a detached structure to be used for “complete independent living facilities for one or more persons.” Property owners will also be able to expand their primary building to include an accessory dwelling.
In section 513, major changes include the number of bedrooms allowed, and for, potentially, a larger living space. Currently the ordinance limits the number of bedrooms to two. Under proposed changes, three bedrooms are allowed, and four with a Special Use Permit from the Zoning Board.
Throughout the Planning Board’s wrangling, there were concerns to maintain a balance between the rights of the homeowner and the rights of the abutters. Thus, some changes were allowed “by right” such as the number of bedrooms going from two to three, and some only by Special Use Permit, such as the expanded square footage.
Spatially, 513 apartments were limited to 1,200 square feet, but again, if adopted, more square footage may be permitted with a Special Use Permit, however there will be a maximum of 1,500 square feet.

One of the questions brought up in discussions was whether an existing accessory structure, such as a garage or barn that is larger could be utilized or converted to a 513 apartment, and so language has been added to allow for a living area of up to 1,800 square feet as long as that structure was existing as of July 1, 2022 – again, with a Special Use Permit.
Under the current rules, no more than two residences are allowed on one lot, but this has also been expanded to three, with a Special Use Permit, for Zones RA, RB, RC, RC/M and M. More than three may be permitted in the
Service Commercial, Old Harbor and New Harbor Commercial zones.
The Planning Board put a lot of consideration, with the help of Town Planner Alison Ring, into the idea of allowing for lot coverage relief on small lots (less than 120,000 square feet). An extra one percent of lot coverage may be allowed for the addition of a section 513 dwelling unit “above the maximum established by the applicable Zoning District.” This not only requires a Special Use Permit but the
property owner must “execute and record
against the deed to said property a restriction that in exchange for the bonus the accessory dwelling unit created remains part of the island’s attainable year-round housing stock in perpetuity.”
One of the requirements to getting a Special Use Permit is that it is “subject to a finding that the development is consistent with the purpose of this Section and the scale, use, and siting of the proposed accessory dwelling unit or units is harmonious with the surrounding land use and development pattern.”
To get a Special Use Permit, the property owner must make an application to the Zoning Board of Review. The application must also undergo Development Plan Review by the Planning Board.
If a property owner wishes to terminate the use of an accessory dwelling unit, or the rental of said unit is found to be in violation, such as if it is rented seasonally, or by the week, the owner must “at a minimum, [remove] all cooking appliances and kitchen plumbing such that any reconversion to a dwelling unit will require a building permit.”
There is also a section on town employee accessory dwelling units, but the only real change – besides substituting “dwelling” for “apartment,” is that language is inserted allowing for rental to low- or moderate income individuals or families, on a yearly basis, if the town does not need the dwelling for its employees.
Complete text of the proposed changes to the ordinances are available at Town Hall, and the Town Council is of course, free to adopt all, some, or none of the changes. The Public Hearing is scheduled for October 19 at 7 p.m.