Accessory Apartment Cottage Blues

Seattle City Council Member Mike O’Brien tours a backyard cottage in 2016.

I am currently running into a problem with a project in Connecticut that imposes a “high bar” to be able to create a legal accessory apartment. Accessory apartments allow convenient care for older residents, keep young families from being priced out of the towns they grew up in and add to the density and tax rolls of communities. These restrictive policies affect communities all across the country.

In this case, there is an existing detached garage in an historic barn with a finished second floor already approved for use as a home occupation. It would take minimal work to convert the lower level to a living room and kitchen for moving Mom and Dad from another state to live affordably with their daughter but maintain a bit of independence. The town does not allow detached accessory apartments. Period. The homeowner could move the structure and connect to the house (at great cost) or build an addition to the house that would take up most of the back yard (at even greater cost).

Here is an article about this tissue in Seattle from Next City called “Urbanists, Architects Say Back Yard Cottages are a Must in Affordable Housing Push”. Food for thought.


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