GovernmentThe Examiner

Mount Kisco Weighs Accessory Units for Detached Structures

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Mount Kisco village trustees discussed the possibility of allowing accessory dwelling units (ADU) in detached structures, a departure from the originally proposed draft of the legislation.

During the Village Board’s discussion last week, Deputy Mayor Lisa Abzun raised the prospect of allowing property owners to use accessory structures on their land for the ADUs as long as it meets the law’s other requirements.

Abzun said if the accessory units can be in detached structures as well, that would free homeowners from the disruptions of construction as well as the expense, which could possibly discourage residents from creating the units. Then there could also be privacy issues.

“If it’s attached to your house, you may be less likely to consider putting in an ADU but it it’s detached from your house, you still have the privacy that your family is used to, the tenant could have the privacy that they would require and I think that the buildout may be something that is more conducive to actually happening,” Abzun said.

While Mayor Gina Picinich said she was open to discussing the revision, she reminded the board that Mount Kisco has mainly smaller lots. Therefore, a property owner could potentially have a refurbished garage or other structure that would be too close to the property line. She said in communities such as Bedford where there are multitudes of multi-acre lots, it’s possible to have detached structures serving as accessory units while not disturbing others.

Picinich said there have been communities with successful ADU legislation that is required within or attached to the main house.

“It happens not just around Westchester, it happens in New York City, it happens in California, Connecticut, it happens in states across the nation,” the mayor said. “So is this going on and are people building ADUs? Yes.”

Abzun countered that the Town of Ossining, which also has smaller lot sizes, amended their ADU law in 2018 to include detached units. So are about 30 have been built since the revision, she said.

Picinich raised the possibility of enacting ADU legislation late last year, partly as a preemptive move in case the state imposes penalties against communities that don’t have ADUs, but also to allow homeowners the chance to earn extra income and have a parent or grandparent live with them while increasing housing stock. Under the proposal, they would be in single-family residential zones.

While Mount Kisco has an extensive supply of multifamily housing, there is no ADU legislation on the books.

Another rationale is that the accessory units are typically smaller and would likely be more affordable.

Trustee Karine Patino, an avid supporter of ADU legislation, said she hasn’t decided on whether the ADUs should also be included in detached structures, but the village should be considering as wide a range of housing types as possible.

Under the draft legislation, an ADU must be at least 400 square feet but at least 30 percent smaller than the main residence, contain its own bathroom, bedroom and living area and the owner must live in the house or in the accessory unit.

The board will discuss the issue again at an upcoming meeting or work session. It is expected that a public hearing will be scheduled for residents to weigh in.

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