September 27, 2021
By: Zachary A. Kohl
On October 1, 2021, many new laws take effect in Connecticut. This is my second in a series of blog posts discussing six zoning law changes that may impact you.
The Connecticut General Assembly passed more changes to the state’s zoning laws this year than any in recent memory. Many of those changes can be found in Public Act 21-29 (the “Act”).
My last post focused on efforts under the Act to make zoning laws more equitable. This post will address the legalization* of accessory apartments.
Legalization* of Accessory Apartments
The Act legalizes accessory apartments, which it defines as a separate dwelling unit located on the same lot as a principal dwelling unit of greater square footage containing cooking facilities and complying with applicable building code, fire code, and health and safety regulations unless exempt. Municipal regulations must do the following.
- Allow accessory use apartments “as of right” on single-family lots without requiring a public hearing be held, a variance, special permit or special exemption be granted, or some other discretionary zoning action be taken. A determination may be required that the site plan conforms to the zoning regulations.
- Allow attached and detached accessory apartments.
- Allow accessory apartments of at least 1000 square feet or 30 percent of the principal dwelling, whichever is less.
- Not set age or familial, marital or employment relationship requirements to the occupants of the principal dwelling.
- Not set a parking requirement greater than one spot per accessory apartment
- Not require periodic renewal of permits.
- Not require a passageway between the dwellings, an exterior door except as required by building or fire code, or separate utilities.
A municipality may prohibit or limit the use of accessory apartments for short term rentals or vacation stays.
Notably, however, a municipality may make accessory apartments illegal by a vote of its zoning commission in compliance with the Act. Additional requirements are set forth in the Act.
My next and final post on the Act will discuss (1) the allowance of “cottage food” businesses; (2) provisions for energy efficient development and renewable energy; (3) the definition of “character”; and (4) new fees that may be charged for land use applications.
If you have any questions about accessory apartments or your own land use project, please contact the Kohl Law Firm, PLLC at (860) 865-0101.