.

Accessory Housing Explanation

Clarkstown Town Planner addresses concerns about proposed Senior Accessory Housing law.

 

Dear Editor:

Please accept this letter in response to the “Community Downzoning in Clarkstown” opinion article published in the Patch on September 25, 2012.  Mr. Grandel’s description of the Clarkstown Senior Accessory Housing Law has several inaccuracies which I would like to clarify for your readers.

It should be noted that accessory housing is not a new concept.  The proposed law is based on a similar law enacted in Orangetown, which has been in effect for 30 years. The purpose of the proposed law, first and foremost, is to provide seniors the ability to stay in their own homes.

In the surveys conducted as a part of the 2002 Housing Study and 2009 Comprehensive Plan seniors overwhelmingly preferred aging in their own home. Accessory housing was identified as a way to facilitate this for some seniors. Accessory apartments provide seniors with supplemental income, as well as possible assistance with property maintenance and the sense of security that comes from having others living nearby.

The proposed Senior Accessory Housing Law does not “make seniors spend tens of thousands of dollars to convert their homes … putting seniors at the mercy of living with tenants.” This program is entirely voluntary.  It simply provides an option that a senior may or may not wish to pursue.

The 2002 Housing Study and 2009 Comprehensive Plan also recognized that housing within the Town is unaffordable for young adults who are typically just starting in the workforce.  Of particular concern are young emergency service volunteers, who after receiving their training and devoting a few years with their company or corps, are opting to move out of the Town because of the high cost of living.

To address this problem, the Town has established a program via the Town’s Senior Citizen Coordinator to match seniors interested in renting to emergency service volunteers. The proposed law and accompanying program are completely voluntary on the part of the seniors and volunteers, but provides options to both parties.

The Senior Accessory Housing Law and any apartments created as a result of the law are not affiliated with any Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program. Accessory apartments, by their nature, are generally affordable as compared to other housing options available in the Town.  A review of available apartments located in two-family residences in the Town revealed that rents are typically in the range of $800 to $1,200. Therefore there was no need to strictly regulate rents to ensure that they be affordable.  The law leaves the rents completely within the discretion of the homeowner.

The proposed law is not downzoning. Accessory apartments must be subordinate to the one-family use and must not have separate metering. The residence must continue to appear to be a single-family dwelling. 

The accessory apartment must be located wholly within the principal building and be a minimum of 400 square feet and a maximum of 800 square feet and not exceed 1 bedroom. The local law limits the number of occupants to 2.  The homeowner would have to be an individual or a couple, one of which is at least 60 years old and have owned and occupied a home in Clarkstown for at least 20 years.

The law also limits the number of apartments town-wide to 200, approximately the number of units that have been developed in Orangetown in the past 30 years.  It was considered prudent to start with a limited number of apartments to gauge the interest of the qualifying seniors

The Town has presented this draft law at several Town Board workshops and held public hearings at the Town Board meetings of July 24, 2012 and August 21, 2012.  In addition, a special public informational session was held on September 10, 2012 with a group of concerned residents, Mr. Grandel among them, during which all of the preceding information was presented.  I hope this helps your readers to better understand the proposed Senior Accessory Housing Law which will again be considered by the Town Board at their meeting of October 2.

Sincerely,
Joe Simoes
Clarkstown Town Planner

Joe Ciardullo October 01, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Fix the real problem of ever increasing taxes. Town taxes will increase at least 6.2% (I predict much more once the Palisades mall wins a tax reduction), County another 25-30%, School at least 2%. Taking in a boarder will not fix this problem. Rockland moved up to the #3 highest taxed count in the nation. Fix that problem and people will be able to afford living here, and be able to stay in their homes. Unfortunately, the current leadership of the town has not made much progress on reducing expenses.
Mary October 01, 2012 at 04:48 PM
There are several of comments made by Mr. Simoes I would like to address: "It should be noted that accessory housing is not a new concept." This is true, since there are already properties in the Town of Clarkstown with a "Parcel Type" listed as "1 Fmly, yr/rnd Acsry Apt" The rezoning of neighborhoods of only single family homes to neighborhoods of multi-family homes is what's new. "...are not affiliated with any Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program." No HUD involved? Then why did HUD issue a publication specifically supporting Accessory Dwelling Units in 2008.... http://www.huduser.org/portal/publications/adu.pdf "Accessory apartments must be subordinate to the one-family use and must not have separate metering." Who does that benefit? "It was considered prudent to start with a limited number of apartments to gauge the interest of the qualifying seniors". I attended the special meeting...which I want to thank the Town for having. At that meeting, we were told that 5 seniors are interested in applying for the accessory apartment. Why not make it possible to add the accessory apartment to their homes by whatever means (zoning board maybe) were used before. Why does the Town want to totally change the zoning?
Mary October 01, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Mr. Simoes stated that adding an accessory apartment to their home and collecting rent is an option for the senior to be able to use to stay in their home. What are the other options available to seniors to help pay their taxes?
Mary October 01, 2012 at 05:51 PM
"Accessory apartments provide seniors with supplemental income, as well as possible assistance with property maintenance and the sense of security that comes from having others living nearby." While all that sounds really good...here's a dose of reality... http://www.ohmidog.com/2009/07/07/told-he-cant-have-dog-he-kills-the-landlord/ http://www.wsbradio.com/news/news/local/man-charged-killing-71-year-old-landlord/nF6CS/ Taking strangers into a home no matter how nice they may seem is putting yourself, as well as neighbors, at risk.
Lynn Teger October 03, 2012 at 10:33 AM
One small miracle in the Town of Clarkstown. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PETJf-cYo6k&feature=youtu.be

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »