Borough holding hearing on ‘granny pods’

NAUGATUCK — The Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on Wednesday a new state law that allows for so-called “granny pods.”

A new state law allows temporary, accessory structures for family members who require care, as an alternative to expensive nursing homes or renovations or additions to existing homes. The structures must meet all building, fire safety, and public health codes, with water, sewer and electricity tied into the main structure on the property.

The new law requires a simple administrative permit, guaranteed as long as the unit meets the requirements.

A physician must certify the need for the impaired person to have help with two or more activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, eating, shopping, housekeeping, laundry, communication, administration of medication and ambulation.

The temporary health care structures must be no larger than 500 square feet, can’t be placed on a permanent foundation, and must be placed on property belonging to an unpaid relative, legal guardian or health care agent. Towns can charge a permitting fee of up to $250 and plus $100 annually as well as require owners to post a bond of up to $50,000 to ensure compliance. The dwellings must be removed within 120 days once they are no longer needed.

Borough Attorney Ned Fitzpatrick said it could be difficult to determine when an impaired person moves out or no longer qualifies for the temporary dwelling. The real issue, he said, is how to regulate it and make sure the unit doesn’t become a rental property.

Municipalities can opt out of the law. They must first hold a hearing on the matter.