The Little Compton Town Council on Thursday will revisit its Dec. 7 decision to eliminate provisions in the zoning ordinance that reference Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as in-law …
The Little Compton Town Council on Thursday will revisit its Dec. 7 decision to eliminate provisions in the zoning ordinance that reference Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as in-law apartments.
While the council’s recent vote had no impact on those ADUs that already exist in town, or on those currently in some phase of construction, it did close the door on anyone who has been considering creating such a dwelling on their property at some point down the road.
Council president Bob Mushen confirmed that on Thursday, the council will review and perhaps modify their earlier vote, which has been criticized by some in town as an ill-conceived measure that will further reduce affordable housing options for Little Compton residents.
ADUs are living spaces that are sometimes referred to as in-law apartments. Typically, they are part of a primary dwelling or are located in a separate structure, such as above a detached garage. Up until this month, new units were allowed on Little Compton properties of three acres or more.
Therein lies one of the problems, Mushen said. A couple of residents approached him after the Dec. 7 meeting saying they had been preparing for years to build an ADU as they aged, with the intention of offering their main house to their children.
“We just created a rule that says you can’t do that in town…[and] we might want to temper what we said,” Mushen said.
The vote earlier this month was motivated by several factors, including the potential impact of new state laws that take effect on Tuesday, Jan. 1. However, the council’s understanding of those laws has shifted somewhat since the original vote, Mushen said.
“We may have reacted to something that wasn’t even on the table.
Other factors influencing the earlier decision included input from the planning board, concerns regarding the impact of increased density on water and sewer capacity in town, and worries about the possibility of an influx of new short-term rentals.
The Dec. 7 vote was 4-1, with the dissenting vote cast by councilor Gary Mataronas. Prior to the vote, he spoke passionately of the need for councilors to consider the benefits of ADUs for Little Compton’s senior citizens who can no longer afford to live in town and younger people who grew up in town but have to leave due to a lack of suitable, affordable housing.
This week, Mataronas said he plans to continue to work for those groups.
“I try as hard as I can on the council — I’ve been on it for 26 years — to stick up for the people that grew up in this town and need to be able to afford to live here. It really is a struggle sometimes.”