Vernon backs off mother-daughter ordinance

Vernon /
| 23 Dec 2020 | 03:06

The Vernon Township Council on Dec. 14 opted not go forward with its proposed ordinance on mother-daughter homes.

Council President Harry Shortway said the council will start over again in 2021.

He said portion of the proposed ordinance that stated the “accessory apartment must share a common entrance and may not have a separate exterior entrance” became a “a major issue,” according to the township’s attorney. Bi-level homes in Vernon tend to have sliding doors on the lower level.

“That could be a common entrance,” said Councilwoman Jean Murphy. “No one was talking about removing anything. If anyone was thinking they’d have to remove a door, that’s not the case.”

Shortway said the prohibition of exterior doors to accessory apartments pertained only to new construction.

At the ordinance’s first reading on Nov. 23, resident Peg DiStasi said not having an exterior door on an accessory apartment could present a fire hazard. Her elderly mother lived with her for eight years, she said.

“They move very slowly,” she said. “They’re usually on walkers. To get them out is a dilemma. Having access to a separate door to wherever the ‘mother-daughter’ is, I think it would be better for a fire than to have them go through the main entrance.”