Redding opts out of granny pods

The Board of Selectmen, following the recommendation of the Zoning and Planning commissions, voted unanimously not to allow temporary structures on private property for ailing relatives, also known as “granny pods.”

The vote, taken at a special selectmen’s meeting Thursday, Sept. 28, exercises the town’s right to opt out of a new state law allowing small temporary accessory units to be built in single-family zones to provide a second dwelling for any person who is physically or mentally handicapped.

At Planning and Zoning Commission meetings on Sept. 26 and Sept. 27, Zoning Enforcement Officer Aimee Pardee expressed a number of concerns based on her understanding of the new legislation, and suggested the town opt out of the law, which she called well-intentioned but poorly conceived and drafted.

“Yes, it’s put in for ‘granny,’ but if that person departs, how do you get the health care structure taken off the facility? If the owner doesn’t do it willingly, you are into a court battle,” Pardee said.

She also asked about what happens when the relative for whom the unit is built dies, but survivors remain in the unit or others are moved into it.

“Is the town going to want to be in the position of evicting those people out of that building?” Pardee asked.

Furthermore, Pardee explained that a person could work the second clause of the act to his or her advantage. This clause defines a mentally or physically impaired person as “someone who requires assistance, as certified in writing by a physician … with two or more activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, shopping.” Pardee said people could get a written note from a doctor stating that they can’t shop or do their laundry.

She added that the clause is not limited to age. “What about a 5-year-old child who can’t do these chores?” she asked.

At the Zoning meeting, Pardee made a motion to opt out of the law, which was seconded by Zoning Commission member Ted Ogonek and unanimously approved by the commission.

According to Pardee, other Connecticut towns that have opted out of the Granny Pod Act include Southbury, Tolland, Ridgefield, Bristol, Darien, Ledyard, Norwich, and Hamden.

There is no penalty for opting out.

Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton acknowledged that there is a growing need for families in town to be able to accommodate relatives who need assistance on their properties.

“I understand families are desperately looking for options, but although this (act) was very well-intentioned, it was not well-crafted,” she said. “I think the town should craft its own regulations so we have full control over the whole issue.”

She added that the Planning and Zoning commissions believe the new zoning regulations in Redding that permit an 800-square-foot accessory apartment already provide that flexibility.

Pemberton added that if at some time in the future the legislation is improved, the town might consider opting for it, “but at this time we believe the legislation would present many problems for the town in terms of zoning and enforcement to our current regulations,” she said.

About author

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© HAN Network. All rights reserved. The Redding Pilot, 16 Bailey Avenue, Ridgefield, CT 06877

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress