Zoning Board approves accessory dwelling unit

Zoning Board approves accessory dwelling unit

CUMBERLAND – The Zoning Board this month approved a dimensional variance allowing Cook Road resident Sebastian Foppema to build a new apartment for a family member on his property.

In April, the Town Council approved changes to local rules on accessory dwelling units, or in-law apartments, including not requiring them to be part of the main house structure as they previously were.

At the time of Foppema’s application in March, one portion of the town’s ordinance directed that all accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, be located within the main house structure, but Town Solicitor Kelley Morris Salvatore recognized that the stipulation contradicted the definition of an ADU in another part of the ordinance, which allowed a detached unit. Similar to another earlier application, the contradiction was to be resolved in favor of the homeowner.

Under the changes approved in April, only family members are allowed to live in the units, and a new owner of a home must get new approvals if they want to maintain the unit. If someone moves out, the homeowner would also need fresh approvals for a new family member as tenant.

At the June 9 Zoning Board meeting, members unanimously agreed to allow Foppema’s request of 7 feet, 11 inches of relief on the town’s limit of 20 feet tall for an accessory dwelling unit above a garage. The entire structure will thus be 27 feet, 11 inches tall.

Foppema said he is looking to give his wife’s brother, who deals with mental illness, a place to live. As he explained it, his brother-in-law is quite tall, at up to 6 feet, 4 inches, so they felt they needed enough height to accommodate him. The ceilings would be sloped, meaning the maximum height would only be there for a portion of the living space.

Zoning Board member Bob Chaput asked Foppema’s attorney, Scott Partington, about the request for a 10-foot-tall garage beneath the dwelling unit, particularly in relation to them asking for the least amount of relief necessary on the height restrictions. Contractor Nicholas McQuesten then responded that 9 feet is now a standard height, with some framing added in bringing it to 10 feet.

Chaput, who made the motion to approve, said it makes sense for Foppema to add a two-car garage on a property that doesn’t have one, and that an ADU, as the Planning Board recommended, is a good thing in terms of affordable housing and a place to house a family member. Chaput noted that this wasn’t a big change being requested by Foppema, particularly since, in an agricultural district north of Diamond Hill Park near the Massachusetts line, he could build a barn quite taller than that.

Among other findings, the board decided that if the application were denied, the hardship would be more than a mere inconvenience because the applicant would not be able to provide housing for his brother.