The Planning Board recently recommended approval of zoning amendments eliminating guest/domestic worker quarters as a permitted use.
If approved by City Council, which is set to hold a public hearing on this on June 17, this means no private living quarters within the home. For those of us who want to age in place as long as possible, this eliminates the option of caregiver living quarters in the home. For folks with aging relatives, this eliminates the option of a mother-in-law suite. A guest house cannot be used for this purpose because the city proposes requiring guest houses to be detached. This eliminates inside access for caregivers, elderly relatives, or guests. Building costs will be higher. Plus, it is a conditional use, so no guarantees of approval. An accessory apartment might be an option for guest/domestic worker quarters, but it is limited to 600 square feet. A larger apartment built over an attached garage might be prohibited entirely — it wouldn’t qualify as an accessory apartment and might not qualify as a guest house. The proposed guest house restrictions don’t clearly define “attached” and “detached.” Is it detached if the apartment is above an attached garage, but only has outside access? Beware. This elimination of a property right is buried in proposed “housekeeping” amendments. Review the packet presented to the Planning Board on May 16. If you have concerns, speak up. There are less drastic ways of addressing city concerns about guest quarters being used as duplexes than eliminating guest quarters entirely.
Andree Larose, Whitefish