Town planners lay groundwork for accessory dwelling units in Worthington
Published: 3/31/2022 5:05:17 PM
Modified: 3/31/2022 5:04:22 PM
WORTHINGTON — The Planning Board unanimously approved a zoning bylaw amendment this week that would legalize adding accessory dwelling units in town.
The measure will now go to voters at annual Town Meeting, along with another article that would modify the zoning bylaw to conform with the rest of the change should the accessory dwelling amendment pass. Both proposals were approved by a 5-0 vote.
“I’m thinking it has a really good chance at annual Town Meeting,” said Amy Wang, a Planning Board member and the chairwoman of the Select Board, in comments after the meeting. “We didn’t hear any objections to it.”
Wang also said that there’s a demand for accessory dwelling units in town as a way to increase housing stock “in a limited way.” Additionally, she said the town has been working on the issue for years.
The bylaw would, for the first time, legalize the creation of new accessory dwelling units in Worthington. Such units would have to have no more than 900 square feet of floor space and include two separate egresses. Additionally, either the main structure on the property or the accessory dwelling unit would have to be occupied by the property owner as their primary residence.
At Monday’s Planning Board meeting, the primary concern raised was on enforcement of the new bylaw, and that concerns over enforcement could sink it at Town Meeting.
“I would like to have it very, very clear about what I can and can’t do, and if I proceed in a way that is … illegal, there will be consequences,” said Joel Upton, who expressed his support for the bylaw and a desire to possibly put in an accessory dwelling unit. “I think that would give the whole bylaw a much greater chance of passing.”
At the meeting, Wang said that zoning enforcement is laid out in the zoning bylaw. And Planning Board Chairman Isaac Bauer said it was decided not to include additional enforcement measures for accessory dwelling units because people violate the zoning bylaw in other ways as well.
“They should be subject to the same enforcement regime,” Bauer said.
Speaking after the meeting, Wang also said the town may bring in an assistant building inspector to help with zoning enforcement in the future.
Bera Dunau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.