The Vernon Township Council on Sept. 13 rejected an ordinance that would have required owners of multigenerational homes to remove appliances once the resident of the accessory apartment no longer lives there.
Councilwomen Toni Cilli and Kelly Weller, and Councilman Andrew Pitsker voted against the ordinance. Council President Harry Shortway voted for it, while Vice President John Auberger was required to vote for it as he moved the ordinance to a vote.
The ordinance states that the living space should be connected with a door to the remainder of the residence and the dwelling may have separate kitchen appliances as long as it is in compliant with local codes. The accessory apartment also must share a common entrance.
The property owner must complete a zoning application and must agree to remove all kitchen appliances when the named person no longer lives in the accessory apartment. Failure to do so could result in a fine.
Township resident Peg DiStasi said she was opposed to the ordinance.
“I personally had to move a family member into my home to be able to care for them,” she said. “To ask people to go to the expenditure of accommodate them first, for instance, ramps and kitchens and bathrooms and such, and then say, once the person dies, you have to remove everything? I think that is an unfair financial burden.”
Cilli said the ordinance made no sense, asking if the ordinance requires them to take it out at the end, why allow them to put in the accessory apartment in the first place?
“Why would you say yes,” Cilli said. “And then something happens, and then it’s ‘no’? And then they have to take it out?”
Shortway said the ordinance is to prevent a multi-generational home from being rented out later as a two-family home, which is against township zoning.
“You don’t want to become like other communities, where all sudden, the whole block the whole street is two family houses,” Shortway said. “So, it’s really a zoning issue, and the Land Use Board has approved it also.”
Pitsker said it seeks to ensure that single family dwellings are not improperly converted, but Pitsker suggested going back to the ordinance’s author and rewrite it so that it addresses everyone’s concerns.