Hartford Allows Granny Flats — State Should Do Same
Hartford lets homeowners build apartments in barns and carriage houses
Hartford Courant Editorial
April 30, 2012
Hartford took a small step toward a healthier population density when the city council recently approved an ordinance that allows apartments in historic barns or carriage houses.
The units, sometimes called mother-in-law apartments or granny flats, are one of those simple ideas that make great sense. The units can add affordable housing at no cost to government, increase urban density, help multi-generational families stay together and help homeowners pay their mortgages.
These units were common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — they were often servants' quarters — but were banned by many 20th-century zoning codes So there has been, until now, a don't-ask, don't-tell policy about their legal status.
It took years of work, for which West End resident and urban planner Toni Gold should take a bow. (Change comes hard in Hartford.) Allowing apartments in barns and carriage houses is a positive first step — even though residents of the R-8 zone somehow got their area in the well-off far West End excluded from the ordinance.
The ordinance may someday lead to allowing apartments on the third floors of larger homes.
The General Assembly could intervene statewide on this issue and allow such apartments, as legislatures have in several other states. Done right — that is important — granny flats are a useful addition to most communities.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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