2017-04-19 / Front Page

Biddeford City Council evaluates accessory dwelling units

Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD — The Biddeford City Council granted unanimous approval for the Planning Board to hold a public hearing regarding proposed amendments to a recently-approved accessory dwelling unit ordinance on Tuesday.

The council adopted a new accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, ordinance on March 7, allowing for the creation of such units in residential zones, other than the Coastal-Residential, or CR, zone.

An ADU is defined by city ordinance as a self-contained housing unit incorporated within a single-family dwelling or in a separate building on the same lot as a single-family home. One ADU is permitted per residentially-zoned parcel except within the CR zone, as well as the Limited Residential and Resource Protection zones, which are laid over the CR zone.

City officials say allowing for such units serves several purposes, including serving the needs of older homeowners, smaller households and persons with disabilities.

In addition, they say, ADUs provide older homeowners with a means of obtaining rental income, companionship, security and services, and to downsize, while allowing them to stay comfortably in their homes.

Such units also reduce need for infrastructure expansion and, as a result, land consumption, city officials say.

But following initial council approval, city staff members found a loophole in the ordinance. As passed, pre-existing, nonconforming single-family dwellings not located in residential zones
would not be able to take advantage of the ADUs provisions, City Planner Greg Tansley said in a memo to the council.

Tansley said such dwellings are located along Marcel Avenue and the north side of Fogg Avenue, among others.

Proposed amendments allow for single-family, non-conforming structures to take advantage of the ADU provisions.

“It was inadvertent that this issue was overlooked and had staff thought about it at the time we would have integrated this in the original ordinance,” Tansley wrote.

City Councilor Michael Ready praised the council’s decision Tuesday.

“When this was brought forward, there wasn’t any intent to restrict houses in certain zones to use this opportunity and … that will be corrected with this amendment,” he said.

A public hearing before the Planning Board will be scheduled for a later date.

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

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