A city ordinance that allows accessory apartments has been recommended for repeal.
The Planning Commission has asked the City Council to abolish the ordinance, saying it creates a hardship on extended families because of an expensive impact fee and has the potential of turning Mapleton into a city of duplexes.The council will discuss those issues at a public hearing Tuesday. The entire issue over accessory apartments - separated areas of a home usually found in basements - "is up in the air," said one city official.
Mapleton has no legal accessory apartments under the current ordinance, said city recorder Don Walker. However, officials say they suspect the town has about 100 illegal apartments.
A few residents admitted they had illegal apartments when the city asked them to fess up earlier this summer. They have expressed interest in paying the fees and going through the city inspection to make them legal.
Last May the council beefed up its accessory apartment ordinance by adding a $4,669 impact fee to the building permit. That raised the ire of many residents.
Planning Commission Chairwoman Barbara Pratt said many families want to be able to take care of extended family members by providing a separate apartment in their homes. But under the definition of an apartment - a kitch-en, bedroom and bathroom - home-owners would have to pay the impact fee and have the structure inspected to comply with the law.
The ordinance also requires an application fee of $100 and an inspection of the apartment. Failure to comply with the ordinance is a class C misdemeanor and carries a $1,000 fine, 90 days in jail or both.
"There was concern among many of the citizens that they would not be able to take care of family," she said, because the impact fee for many was prohibitive. "There was a feeling among (city officials) that perhaps we acted in haste in putting this (ordinance) in place."
If repealed, the city would revert to standard zoning laws that don't allow accessory apartments, said city attorney Jim Brady. However, the City Council may consider redefining the law so extended family members won't be excluded.
However, renting out apartments to non-family members will likely continue to be illegal. Caretakers may become an exception, Pratt said. Commercial rentals are not a big issue in Mapleton, she said, but when the apartment ordinance was originally put in place more than a year ago they were an issue, Brady said.
Meanwhile, some 20 homeowners have applied for accessory apartment permits, but whether they will be allowed is up to the City Council, Walker said. The council may have to honor them, zoning administrator Bill Jones suggested at a recent council meeting. That could mean that a few accessory apartments could become legal in Mapleton and homeowners could rent them to anyone.
In addition to the apartments, the city has a few legal duplexes that will be allowed to continue, Walker said.
In addition to the family issue, the present ordinance allows apartments in any home in any zone in town as long as impacts fees are paid and other requirements are met.
"That was not what we wanted," Pratt said. "There was a feeling (among residents) that we were peeking into people's homes, seeing who lived there."