Should Milford allow temporary residences in single-family zones to allow people to care for mentally or physically impaired family members?

The Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) is conducting a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 16 in the City Hall auditorium on what has been called a “granny pod” issue, in response to a state law that took effect Oct. 1, 2017.

Public Act No. 17-55, “An Act Concerning Temporary Health Care Structures,” championed by state Sen. Cathy Osten (D-Sprague), was signed into law in July 2017 by Gov. Dannel Malloy (D).

The bill passed the state Senate by a 36-0 vote on May 17, 2017, and the state House of Representatives on June 7, 2017, by a 142-8 vote, with Milford’s three representatives all voting in favor of the bill.

“I believe this law will go a long way toward our eventual goal of allowing people who require some level of assistance or special accessibility to stay on their own property or on that of a family caregiver,” Osten said in a July 7, 2017, statement. “In the long run, these temporary healthcare structures could save families a lot of money. Instead of placing a family member in a nursing home, they’d be able to age in place.”

The press release stated that the law is “euphemistically known as the ‘granny pod’ law,” although the wording does not mention any age guidelines.

The law sets requirements for such a structure, including defining it as a “transportable residential structure” that is assembled off-site, has one occupant who is mentally or physically impaired, is not larger than 500 gross square feet, and is not placed on a permanent foundation. The structure must be placed on property owned by an unpaid caregiver or the person in need of care.

The legislation gives towns the opportunity to opt out of the new law, provided the town conducts a public hearing on the issue and states the reason for its decision in a newspaper having a substantial circulation in that town.

While the P&Z is conducting the hearing, the Board of Aldermen will make the ultimate decision in Milford. The P&Z notice states that the recommendation is for Milford to opt out of the new law.

The full text of the law may be read at cga.ct.gov/2017/act/pa/pdf/2017PA-00155-R00SB-00922-PA.pdf.

The Connecticut chapter of the American Planning Association has a presentation on housing options for senior citizens called “What’s the Side-Yard Setback for Grandma?” at westcog.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Granny-Pod-Presentation.pdf.

The P&Z will conduct two other public hearings on Jan. 16. The first hearing is for a subdivision at 622 Gulf Street, which requires a coastal area management site plan review and approval. George Ward, trustee, and his successors own the 3.9-acre property in the R-18 zone.