Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Town of Hempstead Expands Law On Mother/Daughter Apartments

Easing Housing Crunch While Keeping Families Together

When it comes to enforcing the laws relating to accessory apartments in single-family homes -- in particular, the laxity of enforcement vis-a-vis illegal rental apartments, in basements and otherwise -- this blog has often chastised the Town of Hempstead.

The illegal accessory apartment, a danger to occupant and burden to taxpayer, continues to be a major plague upon America's largest township.

Still, every once in a great while, the Town of Hempstead offers up a pleasant -- and, less frequently, a community-minded surprise, as they have done recently in adopting a change in the Town Code that permits the use or rental of accessory apartments in single-family homes by siblings to siblings.

Could it be that Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray has a sister residing in an apartment in Murray's Levittown cape, and wants to make it all legal?

Who knows the machinations that lurk behind the legislation? All we can say is, in easing the housing burden that has forced too many families off of Long Island, and in affording sisters and brothers the opportunity to co-house alongside -- or, perhaps, down the block from -- mom and dad, Murray and the Hempstead Town Board have made the right move.

Now, about those illegal basement apartments and other unlawful accessories that continue to be rented outside the code?

Here, too, its time for the Town to act responsibly.
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From The Town of Hempstead:

It's All in the Family: Murray and Hudes Expand "Mother-Daughter"Apartment Law to Include Siblings

Acknowledging the rising cost of living on Long Island and accommodating the wishes of many community residents, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilman Gary Hudes, along with the entire town board, have passed legislation that effectively expands upon the town's provision for "mother-daughter" apartments in single-family homes. The new law will allow siblings to qualify for an exemption to alter a one-family home to accommodate two families. Moreover, siblings can now enjoy the same benefits that apply to parent child relationships in the establishment of an accessory apartment in a single-family home.

"Many families today want to stay together and remain in the same home while continuing to enjoy the suburban quality of life that our township affords," Supervisor Murray said. "Adjusting the 'mother-daughter' apartment law to reflect this reality will allow us to better serve the different needs of families throughout Hempstead Town."

The pre-existing law defined a mother-daughter residence as a one-family home constructed or altered to include a second kitchen for the sole use of the children or parents of the home's owner. Expanding the law to include siblings will help family members to stay with the people they love while easing the costs of owning and operating a home. Both the previous mother-daughter law and the new legislation apply only to single-family homes in unincorporated areas of the town. Incorporated villages are not subject to the legislation and control their own zoning regulations.

"Many families today are struggling to make ends meet," Councilman Hudes said. "Giving immediate family members the option to share a home may help both older and younger siblings alike ease the costs of living on Long Island.

"In addition to the mother-daughter residence law and the new sibling provisions, residents may only alter a one-family home to accommodate two families by obtaining a two-family senior residence permit. [Emphasis added.] By providing more opportunities for families to stay together, Murray and Hudes hope that young adults who might otherwise find the costs of owning a home to be prohibitive will be able to remain in their communities, while older family members may benefit from the assistance that younger siblings or children can provide in a shared residence.

"Many siblings grow up in the same home and highly value the bond they share with their immediate family members," Supervisor Murray concluded. "Once grown, siblings should still be able to keep a close-knit family in a shared home while maintaining the high quality of life that they have come to enjoy in Hempstead Town."

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