Article 40: Amend Zoning Bylaw: Accessory Apartments

Article 40: Amend Zoning Bylaw: Accessory Apartments - This article would relax some existing conditions and requirements that limit the ability to construct accessory apartments. These requirements include lot area, presence of rooming units, connection to Town water and sewer, ownership, location of parking, and age of structure.
Article inserted at the request of the Planning Board
Planning Board presentation: We have a lot of very big houses but do not have ample small dwellings for:
  • older parents
  • adult children
  • rental income
Comprehensive plan to address changes, including:
  1. Under the current bylaw, if you have an accessory apartment, you can't also rent out a room - - we don't see a reason that these be mutually exclusive, but that there are no more than 4 unrelated people in the apartment. (Also applies to B&Bs).
  2. Public water & sewer: currently, we say that if you h.ave public water and sewer you can't have an accessory apartment; we think there are reqs from the board of Health, so we are changing
  3. Parking: currently, very long section on dealing with parking; those rules don't apply to single family houses, so this is why we are recommending the change.
  4. Lot Area: right now you can't build an accessory apartment unless you have a lot of a certain size. but, many lots to not apply to this amendment.
  5. Age of building: right now, the two smallest kinds of apartments, have a req that it has to have an existing building that's at least 5 years old. We want to encourage the growth of these small apartments, 1,000 square feet or less.
Planning Board unanimously supports
Board of Selectmen unanimously suppports
Appropriation Committee: a majority supports
TMM Q: for Planning Board - is PB concerned at all that with the adoption of this article, and that a single mother with 3 children and the potential impact on our school system?
A: no reason to think there will be more children; every reason to think there will be fewer
TMM at YES: I'm 25, recent college grad; crushing debt. Full disclosure - I live with my parents. I'm the only TMM under the age of 30. We need to facilitate young people to come back to live in Lexington. Urge TM to think of young professionals, others like himself; need to build a new generation of young people for public service.
TMM at NO: rise in opposition and agree with Appropriation Committee. This Article isn't ready and this is not the right time. Urge you to vote against
TMM Q: Enforcement - only for neighbors to rat on their neighbors; what's the enforcement process?
A: not making any changes WRT enforcement. It's up to the Building Department.
TMM: I think Lexington has met its 10% - I will not support
TMM at YES: Town has been working really hard on sustainability - I urge TMMs to continue along the path of sustainability and support
TMM at NO: I moved into Town in 1959 with 2 children. The schools are over-populated. If you build these apartments, they will come - and the children will come and then we will have to take care of them and schools will be over enrolled
TMM Q: Schools - enrollment problems, also affordability problem. Do we have any other splution to this problem? How do we make Lexington affordable if we do not do this?
A: this is the plan we are proposing concerning accessory apartments
TMM: Do we know that there will be increase in number of school children?
A: Whether or not they do, we cannot discriminate against families with children
TMM - urges support
Citizen: speaks in favor of this amendment because of increasing diversity in housing
TMM Q: Limits of 4 people - what does that mean?
A: A family is one or more individuals living together. A roomer is one individual in an accessory apartment
TMM at YES: when my parents retired, they moved to ME with my sister in an accessory apartment. That they did with my sister and her kids, made their lives longer and fuller.
TMM at YES: this is about building diversity like the previous TMM addressed. Please support
TMM at NO: I'm concerned that even 2 bedrooms or more can support a significant number of people.
TMM at YES: We hear a lot about seniors being forced out, so this gives another option and I urge support
TMM at YES: I support this article. If people had tried to stop people from moving into this community, I may have never lived here. Wants to pay it forward
TMM Q: is it true that an owner can be away from their house for 2 years?
A: existing bylaw (we are not proposing a change) permits absences by the owner for up to 2 years; may rent the main dwelling and accessory apartment with certain procedure for doing so
Citizen: speak in favor of this amendment; currently building an accessory apartment for my brother.
TMM at NO: I support all of the intent behind the accessory apartments. We can bring all the families we want to Lexington, but this seems risky for school over enrollment
TMM at YES: would be a sea-change to have such a number of children. Removes a number of restrictions for smaller homes
TMM Q: struggling with this - why lifting the restriction to build accessory apartment at time of new construction?
A: only applies to 1,000 sq ft. types (accessory apartment). Demand isn't driven by the market, but by particular family circumstances.
Citizen: if we really care of there being "too many children", then, you should support this article
With no one standing at any of the mics, Town Moderator asks for any closing comments from Planning Board.
PB: we have had accessory apartments for more than 30 years. Feels this proposal gives everyone the same shot at building an accessory apartment.
Town Moderator calls for vote on Article 40 - requires 2/3 majority
MOTION passes
YES= 148; NO= 41; ABSTAIN=3