"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Accessory Dwelling Units

New legislation , SB 146 recently signed into law by Governor Hassan, significantly reduces the restrictions municipalities can place on "accessory dwelling units (ADU)." It is effective on June 1st 2016. As defined in the bill "“accessory dwelling unit” means a residential living unit that is within or attached to a single-family dwelling, and that provides independent living facilities for one or more persons, including provisions for sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same parcel of land as the principal dwelling unit it accompanies."
The legislation should allow older residents to stay in their homes and increase the supply of affordable rentals to attract and keep younger families.
After June 1, NH municipalities cannot require that accessory dwelling units be occupied only by a family member, have a separate water or sewer connection, contain just one bedroom, or maintain an always-unlocked doorway connection to the rest of the premises. The law applies to renovations as well as new construction. Municipalities can require that the owner of the premises live on site. 

According to this article in NH Business Review 92% of NH home sales are single family, the highest in New England and one half of all NH renters earn less than $35,000 per year. There is clearly a need for more affordable housing, both in terms of ownership and rental availability. 

Moultonboro's Planning Board has already drafted a zoning amendment for voter consideration next March on ballot day. Public hearings will be held before it goes on the ballot. Among the changes being proposed:

  • The maximum size of an ADU shall not exceed 1,000 sq. ft. area.
  • An interior door shall be provided between the principal dwelling unit and accessory dwelling unit. There is no requirement for said interior door to remain unlocked
  • There shall be no more than two bedrooms in an ADU
  •  Sale or ownership of such unit separate from the primary residence is prohibited.
  • The occupant of either the ADU or the primary residence shall be the owner of the entire. property. Only one unit shall be used for rental occupancy
  • No more than four persons shall occupy an ADU
  • D. NH DES requirements for septic loading shall be met

I am puzzled that two of our three NH House Reps, Cordelli and Wright, voted against this legislation. Rep. Crawford was excused and did not vote. It passed the house 188 to 93. Perhaps they can explain their position? 


Anonymous said...

Approved: March 16, 2016

Effective Date: June 1, 2017

Fred Van Magness said...

I have a few initial thoughts....
1. I would assume all zoning regulations would still apply to the property...setbacks, lot coverage, etc. if the ADU is an addition.
2. It would seem to me that when there is an ADU created/permitted, that a hard wired smoke and carbon dioxide alarm system shall be required, that is interconnected to provide an alarm to both living units simultaneously. This should be part of the regulations proposed.
3. No more than one ADU per property of record.
4. All ADU must file for a permit and comply with all building codes before an occupancy permit will be provided.
These are just some random thoughts that I assume will be discussed before any final regulations are promulgated.

Fred Van Magness said...

Opps.....must have left my brain cells somewhere else....item #2 should say carbon MONOXIDE instead of "dioxide". Makes a BIG diference. Braindead today !!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the State is again dictating to localities what they can or can't do. Preemption is bad policy.

Moultonboro Blogger said...

Keep in mind Anon that the " state" are the representatives and senators you elected. The NH House vote was overwhelming in favor.

Anonymous said...

The new rules will benefit the AirBnB model, adding short-term vacation rental properties to inventory and depressing rates. Probably a good thing to bring in young families that may want to stay. Enforcing the item about "Only one unit shall be used for rental occupancy" will be tricky.

Moultonboro Blogger said...

To "anon" from around midnight ( comment not posted): the key is " civil" discourse. What may be sad to you is very positive to many others.

Against Preemption said...

Some years back we had a vote on rental signs and the Town voted overwhelmingly against the expansion of rental signs. I would assume that campaign was led by neighbors of rental housing in the summer when drunken parties dominate certain waterfront areas with loud fireworks (remember fireworks regulation controversy). What this new provision will mean is more building on the waterfront where pollution of the lakes is most pervasive.

I would think that to preserve the lake the Town will need stringent inspection of these new units and in my view as a neighbor of rental housing, some reasonable limits on occupancy of rental properties to avoid dangerous overcrowding.

in my view this legislation is not good for MoBo as the perversions possible will lead to abuses. I agree that this type of preemption is bad as it takes away local control. The fact that my less than intelligent legislators (trying to be politically correct) is irrelevant, it still is bad legislation that should have been left to localities.

Anonymous said...

once again concord's corner office occupant has shown her inability to think beyond a bill for the unintended consequences that will spew forth by this legislation. the above anon makes a good point. that the damage done by over taxed septic systems of water front homes will lower the quality of our lakes is obvious. the game of three bedroom homes turning into 4 and 5 has been alive and well for years. now have we just legitimized it?

Mellisa Seamans said...

Normally, I fully support local control. However, on this piece of legislation I say thank you to the 188 legislators that voted in favor. This includes 10 Carroll County Reps who voted in favor (3 voted against and two were absent). Carroll County continues to be the fastest aging county with a current median age of 49.7 (compared to the NH average of 41 and national average of 36.8).

Young people are leaving Carroll County in droves to take up residence in places where they can afford to live and that offer employment, services, and culture that appeals to them - none of those things they can find here. In my opinion, most zoning ordinances in our county were written to "preserve the blah, blah blah, character, beauty, etc" and stifle growth but none were written to give reasonable future access, encourage growth or allow people to use their own land to its best possible potential. We regulate to keep things the way they always have been. And in doing so we are a haven for retirees and tourists and we drive away business and youth.

And as a result an aging population will continue to foot the bill for essential services - roads, schools, sanitation, public safety, etc. - all costs that continue to rise - but there is no influx of the next generation to spark economic growth to offset these taxes. Why would a company even consider moving here if there is no affordable housing for their workers?

Kudos to the NH Legislature for doing what localities have refused to do. I know people who rent their basements and garages as apartments and do so "illegally" but also so they can pay their taxes and not lose their homes. I know people who have relatives in nursing homes or relatives who need visiting care to stay in their homes. These families could save $$$ and want to bring their relatives to an added apartment but can't because zoning doesn't allow it.

In my opinion the law doesn't go quite far enough. Why can't it just be that as long as the dwellings on your property don't exceed septic capacity...have at it.