MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Want Nana to come live by you, but not with you? Soon you might be able to build the ultimate she shed, a Grandma Garage.

An ordinance to allow for the building of accessory dwelling units (ADU) on a single family home property has passed first read after input from the community and a healthy amount of discussion amongst the Maplewood Township Committee.

Ordinance 3002-20 allows for “a separate dwelling unit constructed within an existing detached one-family residence or in an existing accessory structure or garage on the property lot.”

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The parameters for an ADU include that the property owner must live in the primary or the accessory dwelling unit; at least one person in either the primary dwelling or the ADU must be 62 or older; and the ADU shall not be greater than 30 percent of the floor area of the primary dwelling. For example, a 2,400 square foot home could have a 792 square foot ADU on its property.

Speakers during public comment included Matthew Ward, who said that while “creating more housing opportunity is a great thing,” he recommended the ordinance be expanded to include people at lower incomes. “There’s an opportunity here to grow that affordable housing base in a way that doesn’t disturb the fabric of Maplewood,” he said.

Matthew Dunbar said that he would also like to see it expanded to become affordable housing, and include those with disabilities. It “could be good for both,” he said.

During the Township Committee discussion, Deputy Mayor Dean Dafis explained the background of the ordinance, which stemmed from discussions of SOMA Two Towns for All Ages. He said it was alternate way to provide affordable housing for seniors, or for seniors to gain an income and stay in their homes longer, without adding density to the Township.

Committee Member Vic DeLuca added that the framing of the ordinance was intentional, as they wanted to avoid “frat house” living situations.

The committee did decide to send the ordinance to the planning board, which meets next on July 14, and passed it unanimously without expanding the parameters. 

As for expanding the parameters of who could dwell in the ADU in the future, Mayor Frank McGehee said, “There’s an opportunity to build on top of this ordinance.” He did not mention whether his pun was intended.

The public hearing and second read of the ordinance is set for July 21.   

 

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