Montclair, NJ – Call it a place for Mom. Or a separate living space for a young adult son or daughter. Or an opportunity to offset Montclair taxes with some rental income. Tonight, Montclair Council will vote to finalize an Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as in-law suites, granny flats or guest houses, come in many shapes (apartments above garages or units that are free standing or attached to the main house on the property they share). A typical ADU is roughly 600 to 1,000 square feet, has a bathroom, a kitchen or kitchenette, and, usually, a separate entrance. These smaller units use less electricity and water and are considered more environmentally friendly because they are a low-impact solution to a need for more housing.

Accessory Dwelling Units. Photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons: (Joiedevivre123321)

Some 1.4 million Americans have added ADUs to their single family homes. ADUs offer an affordable housing option that can keep families together, bridge the gap between when college students live at home before starting a career. They also afford an income stream to homeowners who want age in place by providing rental income. ADUs are also lauded for creating inclusive housing opportunities and more diversity in communities. In 2021, Maplewood and Princeton passed their new ADU ordinances. South Orange is also looking to approve a new ordinance that would allow residential property owners in the township to create ADUs.

Montclair Council can vote to adopt this Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance, a revised version with input from the Planning Board, that was passed on first reading in January.

Montclair Gateway Aging in Place board members Ann Lippel and Frank Millspaugh have been actively involved with Third Ward Councilor Lori Price Abrams to both educate the public and move the proposed ordinance forward. In May, MGAP held a virtual symposium, “ADU: What’s In It For You.”

ADUs are one of the efforts MGAP has supported to help make Montclair age friendlier (you can sign their petition here)

3 replies on “Montclair Council To Take Final Vote on Accessory Dwelling Units Tonight”

  1. In other words, we can’t control spending so taxes are going to increase. To offset taxes you can put another house on your property. The cost of construction may make it a wash but hey it’s “environmentally friendly.” More sq footage, more cars, bigger driveways, and higher assessments. Win/win!!!

  2. As pelburg previously pointed out, I am out of my depth when it comes to the methodology of property assessments. But, that doesn’t preclude me from asking (pelberg?) how an ADU will impact a property’s assessment.

    An ADU is by definition an accessory use (either as a detached existing structure or attached to the principle structure) to an existing principle use/structure. I would think a conversion should not trigger a change in use and therefore not be treated as new construction. What if the existing accessory structure already has partial/full utility service? Further, I think it was the authors’ expectation, if not intent for cost reasons that the ADU’s utilities would NOT have their own meters. This avoids almost $500/year in water/sewer infrastructure charges for the additional dwelling and, of course, the hefty installation fees.

    I think it would be a beneficial for the Township to publish the criteria and methods that are to be applied in determining the new property assessment? Maybe give some financial illustrations based on the common types of ADU spaces identified.

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