Councilor Cannon Wants Framingham Planning Board To Re-Consider In-Law Apartments

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FRAMINGHAM – In November 2018, District 4 Councilor Michael Cannon proposed an ordinance that would allow for in-law apartments to accommodate the growing senior citizens population, their families, and their caretakers. The proposal was defeated.

Now, Councilor Cannon is trying again.

Councilor Cannon wants the 5-member Framingham Planning Board, now under the leadership of Chair Kristina Johnson, to take accessory dwellings, also known as in-law apartment up for review and allow for families to create in-law apartments for their loved ones.

On Tuesday night, February 23, the 11-member City Council will be asked to “refers to the Planning Board for review, discussion, and recommendation: the matter of Accessory Dwelling Units a/k/a in-law apartments in the City of Framingham; and calls upon them to lead a public, transparent, and collaborative process with all relevant parties (including but not limited to the public, municipal professional staff, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Board and Department of Public Health, Inspectional Services), and develop a recommended ordinance to the City Council which affords the community an opportunity.”

Councilor Cannon in resubmitting his proposal wrote it is time to “recognizes the complexity of this matter within our community and seeks a solution which allows family freedom and flexibility, but prevents an unauthorized marketplace of illegal apartment.”

Older adults are among the largest segment of Framingham’s growing population.

There are families in this community who want their elderly parents to stay with them, said Cannon to SOURCE on Monday.

But under the current laws in the City, these parents can stay within them but they can not have a stove or a full-size refrigerator, explained Councilor Cannon.

The District 4 Councilor, who has served on the City Council since January 1, 2018, said other cities have allowed “in-law apartments” and found ways to manage them.

Under the City’s current zoning laws, in-law apartments are technically banned, unless through a special permit in certain districts only.

Below is the draft ordinance proposed by Councilor Cannon in November 2018:

PURPOSE
a. To add a new section to the Zoning Bylaw entitled Accessory Dwelling Units to allow, only by special permit, the creation of an accessory unit within a single-family dwelling, limited to _ bedrooms and _ square feet, for occupancy by family members who have some dependency for special housing needs due to age, mental or physical health, personal care requirements, or economic factors; or by others such as
nurses or nannies who occupy the accessory living area to facilitate providing direct care to a family member of the owner that resides in the dwelling.

DEFINITIIONS
a. ACCESSORY DWELLING UNIT: A separate housekeeping unit, complete with its own sleeping, cooking and sanitary facilities, that is substantially contained within the structure of a single family dwelling but functions as a separate unit.

ACCESSORY STRUCTURES
a. ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS: One (1) accessory dwelling unit may be permitted by special permit of the Zoning Board of Appeals in all residential districts subject
to the following conditions:
b. The owner(s) of the dwelling in which the accessory dwelling unit is located shall occupy one of the dwelling units.
c. Either the occupants of both units shall be related by blood, adoption, or marriage, or one of the units shall be occupied by an individual hired to provide medical assistance, custodial care, or child care to one or more individuals in the other unit. When the dwelling is sold, or when the need for such care ceases, the dwelling shall revert to single family use, and the accessory dwelling unit may not be reoccupied unless a new special permit is obtained from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
d. The design of the accessory dwelling unit shall be such that the appearance of the building remains that of a one-family residence. Any new entrances or additions shall be located on the side or rear of the building and shall not increase the floor area of the dwelling by more than ten percent (10%). Additions shall not be permitted on any lot not conforming to the minimum lot size or yard setback requirements of the district where the building is located, nor shall any new nonconformance be created by any additions.
e. The accessory dwelling unit shall be clearly secondary in nature to the principal dwelling, and it shall not exceed six hundred (600) square feet in area.
f. The one accessory dwelling unit permitted per dwelling may be created in an attached or detached garage existing on the date of adoption of this by-law.
g. If the lot is not connected to public sewer, prior to obtaining a building permit, the Board of Health or Inspectional Services shall certify that the septic system is in compliance with Title 5 of the State Environmental Code and the Board of Health/Inspectional Services regulations.
h. There shall be no more than __ bedroom(s) in an accessory dwelling unit.
i. The Zoning Board of Appeals may require more stringent or other appropriate conditions in order to protect the public health and safety and the single family character of the neighborhood. The Board may allow deviation from the above conditions where necessary to install features that facilitate use by disabled persons.

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