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Town meeting will revisit `in-law' bylaw; Rules for apartments among 69 articles.

Byline: Donna Boynton

MILLBURY - A $32.8 million budget, several bylaw amendments - including those for an in-law apartment bylaw and storm water management - and street acceptances face voters at tonight's annual town meeting.

The town meeting begins at 7 in the high school auditorium, 12 Martin St. The warrant has 69 articles.

The Finance Committee is recommending a $32,814,752 budget, which is a 3.9 percent increase over the fiscal 2007 budget of $31,542,553. That is a $1,272,199 difference.

Article 47 is to amend the zoning bylaws to include special regulations for accessory dwelling units, or in-law apartments.

The bylaw is the result of a recommendation made in the town's Housing Plan, which was compiled by Town Planner Laurie Connors and the Millbury Housing Task Force and completed in 2006. Approval of that plan from the state Department of Housing and Community Development is pending.

According to Ms. Connors, adopting regulations for in-law apartments would help the town meet its affordable housing goals. Such apartments may meet the housing needs of aging or disabled loved ones who can't or don't want to live alone; parents of college-age children who live at home while attending school or grown children who want to save some money before moving out on their own; or working parents who may employ a nanny or other live-in assistance, Ms. Connors said.

An in-law apartment bylaw was first proposed at last year's town meeting, and a definition was incorporated into the bylaws. However, town meeting defeated the special permit process that would have allowed those units, causing confusion for town officials and applicants who see the definition in the bylaws, but no defined procedure, Ms. Connors said.

This amendment aims to clarify that.

Ms. Connors said the bylaw differs from the one that was before voters last year. The bylaw decreases the maximum size of the apartment to 675 square feet. It allows construction of an in-law apartment in a single-family house located on a non-conforming lot; that being a home that may have been built prior to the adoption of the town's zoning bylaws. However, an in-law apartment in such a home must be done within the existing footprint; the home itself cannot be made larger, Ms. Connors said, adding that the in-law apartment may be located entirely in the basement or attic.

"Although in-law apartments can be constructed in Millbury today under existing regulations, many lots in Millbury are ineligible for them because they are too small, have a septic system or well, or the lots are located within neighborhoods dominated by single-family homes," Ms. Connors said. "A consequence of these limitations is that homeowners in need of an in-law apartment must move, or opt to build illegal apartments. The construction of illegal apartments can be a very dangerous practice as the units tend to have code violations that render the unsafe."

Another change is that the property owner will not be required to live in one of the units - either the apartment or the home; and the Planning Board will be limited to granting 15 accessory dwelling unit special permits each year.

Other articles on the warrant include:

A zoning bylaw amendment to allow assisted-living facilities by special permit

Redefining the position of public works director. The position will include the cemetery, highway parks and sewer departments. The new definition requires the DPW director to have a bachelor's degree in civil engineering or a similar field, and preferably be a registered civil engineer with experience in public works, construction and management. The DPW director will be appointed by the town manager.

A request for $125,000 to upgrade the communications equipment in the police dispatch center.

A request to increase the Elders Community Service Program funding, from $10,000 to $20,000.

NAME: MILLBURY FINANCE COMMITTEE
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:May 1, 2007
Words:638
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