Milford changes rules on accessory dwellings

MILFORD — Milford residents who want to rent an accessory dwelling unit to someone other than family can now do so.

Charles Montalbano, of the community group All in for Milford, lauded the change.

"The reaction was jubilation when they approved the regulation change," Montalbano said. He added the change would help people who need a place to live but can't afford an apartment.

An ADU is a housing unit that is built on the same lot as a larger main home.

Milford's Planning and Zoning Board recently approved the regulation change, with Nancy Austin, Joseph Castignoli, James Hirsch, James Kader, Brian Kaligian, Carl Moore, Robert Satti, and Jim Quish in favor and Marc Zahariades against.

The change would allow owners to derive income from the ADU by renting it to someone who is not a relative. Milford also would limit ADUs to 800 square feet and require it to be attached to the main structure.

"There are people who have met someone in the community who have been turned away from housing or been priced out," said Patricia Houser of All in for Milford. "So I was delighted when they approved the regulation change because I have a friend who has been priced out of Milford."

Numerous people have come before the board since the process started in July 2022. Jennifer Paradis, executive director of the Milford-based Beth-El soup kitchen and homeless shelter, said the board executed the process thoughtfully, and with open discussions with the public.

"This was a healthy exercise for what this community and the board can do with future issues," she said.

During the last meeting, the P&Z decided to delay the vote to research public questions regarding parking and potentially making the ADUs count as affordable housing.

The board ultimately decided against allocating ADUs toward state affordable housing requirements.

"After further thought for myself, I don't think it's something feasible to attach 8-30g to our regulation," said Satti.

The board also rejected adding parking requirements, such as requiring property owners to add additional parking spaces.

Similarly, the board did not prohibit short-term rentals of ADUs, although it did discuss concerns that owners could rent their ADU for terms as short as a few days.

"The reality is the zoning board does not have any regulations that dictate how long you can rent something for," said Quish.

Montalbano said there is no perfect solution for housing, and with every action, there is a reaction.

"But this is a good one, and this is a really good step for Milford," he said.

Paradis explained the approval of the ADU regulation change is just one piece of the work that still needs to be done regarding housing in Milford.

"This certainly makes new housing options that did not exist, making it an important vote, and we are excited to reach out to ADU owners and connect them with people who can be a good fit to rent the ADU," she said.