One town says you can’t have 2 front doors and the apt. must be within the footprint of the original house. This town is a mill town with lots of large old houses.
One town required a doctor’s note that your in-law needs your help – you have to renew the permit to have the apt every 5 years -and the apartment must be able to be integrated back into the house when it is no longer needed.
In my town the different residential areas were determined by septic systems: the in-town had town sewers,thus 1/3 acre lots or less, the middle area had some town sewer and it was assumed that some more could be added – based on topography – (water flows downhill, pumps break down, rock ledge is a bummer), thus 2/3 acre. The then rural land was required to have 1 acre lots -to accommdate the septic systems. Since then, many have failed – real sewage running in the yards, yes – due to bad drainage, wet land, and lots of ledge – good old New England rocky soil, you know. My town had to extend the town sewer and invest in pumps, as well as the treatment plant, etc. which takes care of our sewage.
So, the State looked at my town and said your zoning is exclusive and we will write a law (Comprehensive Permits) which requires you to have more ‘affordable’ housing by overruling your zoning by-law. Hmmm, We thought, You know we wrote those laws ourselves, for our town, and we know the land, the traffic and river and creek patterns, the State doesn’t.
In our case the Comprehensive Permits were for dense multifamily housing on land that was, mostly, several miles away from the town center. The developers, naturally, needed to make a profit, and build as many units, and as few amenities, as they could. Profit is not bad, except that when the developer circumvented our rules, built as cheaply as possible, we, the town were left with what they did, good and bad. And the ‘affordable’ rental housing only lasts for 20 years before it reverts to market rates, and is sold at market rates…
So did we create anything more than high rising housing in rural subdivisions?
My town knows its housing is too expensive, and mulls over the problem constantly. The land itself costs too much. There isn’t any more if it. We see ‘tear downs’ of perfectly nice housing stock every day. My own house would have been a ‘tear down’ if it hadn’t been too close to wetlands, and therefore couldn’t have been rebuilt.
Perhaps one way to get some innovative solutions would be to gather local zoning and planning board members together to brainstorm on how each town might tailor its rules to encourage more inexpensive housing. The various rules about in-law apartments makes me hopeful.