Barnstable Town Council Approves Changes to Accessory Apartment Ordinance

Barnstable Town Hall.

BARNSTABLE – Homeowners and tenants of family accessory apartments in Barnstable will have more flexibility after changes to zoning regulations were approved by the town council.

After receiving the recommendation of the planning board, town council agreed to remove the year-round residency requirement from the family accessory apartment ordinance.

“Some of the concern driving this is we are a seasonal community and we have a number of people in our community who go away for a few months of the year,” said Elizabeth Jenkins, the director of planning and development for the town. “The desire was to give more flexibility for homeowners and tenants.”

Jenkins says more leeway in the regulations could help diversify the housing stock in Barnstable.

“Family apartments are certainly a way to support the affordable, intergenerational occupancy of a single-family unit for families who often have a number of issues related to income or otherwise,” Jenkins said.

The changes also include an increase in apartment size before a special permit is required from the Zoning Board of Appeals. Previously any apartment larger than 800 square feet has to be reviewed through a special permit from the board of appeals. The change would now only require a review if the apartment space is larger than half the size of the rest of the dwelling.

“Certainly, we think that’s more reasonable,” Jenkins said. “If they are greater than 50 percent then that accessory distinction is certainly challenged. We felt that was a more appropriate trigger for discretionary review of these apartments.”

The revision of the ordinance also relaxes the limitations on where the apartments can be located on the property and now includes above a garage or attached to a structure detached from the main residence.

The changes also include additional discretion for homeowners and building commissioners for the options when discontinuing an accessory apartment.

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