Next Steps on Accessory Dwelling Units

At its meetings on November 26 and December 10, 2019, the Planning Board discussed its next steps in relation to the Zoning Bylaw amendment concerning Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which narrowly failed to gain a two-thirds majority at the fall Special Town Meeting.

The Board has decided to move forward by proposing a revised version of the zoning amendment, which would give neighbors more opportunity for involvement in plans for detached ADUs. The revision provides for a site plan review process with abutter notification. The review would be conducted by the Planning Board at one of its public meetings, and neighbors who attended could examine the proposal, ask questions and offer comments. This could be an opportunity to draw attention to particular features of the setting such as steep slopes or the relationship to existing buildings and structures, which might lead the Board to explore potential adjustments to the siting of the ADU or the need for protective measures such as landscape planting or structural screening.

While such a review process would be an extra hurdle for applicants, on top of the design criteria already written into the draft bylaw, by offering such extra consideration and opportunity for consultation, it might give more voters the comfort level to support the amendment.

As a reminder, as well as allowing detached ADUs as an alternative to the already-allowed internal or attached units, other features of the zoning amendment are a tightening and equalization of the size rules, and a reduction in the parking requirement. A proposed 1 ½ story height rule for detached accessory units has already been taken care of by a separate amendment for all accessory buildings in residential districts, which did pass at the fall Special Town Meeting, but it will be repeated in the ADU section.

In revisiting the ADU amendment, the Board took the opportunity to edit the objectives section to better reflect current thinking, with reordering and minor changes.

A new public hearing will be held during the Board’s meeting on January 14, 2020 at 7: 30 PM, to review this zoning amendment with the intention of advancing it as article in the warrant at the Annual Town Meeting on March 23.

To see the proposed text of the zoning bylaw amendment, showing changes to the existing bylaw with strikeout for deletions and bold text for additions, please see attachment.

Background information and documents relating to ADUs can be found by clicking on the ADU logo in the center portion of the Planning webpage.