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Our View: Apply common sense to long debate in Afton

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Our View: Apply common sense to long debate in Afton
Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

Politicians have a tendency to talk about "common sense" solutions.

All too often, that reference is a mere code word used to offer simplistic answers to complex problems. Yet, a genuine common-sense solution is just what's needed for our friends in Afton.

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For months now, Afton City Council has played a virtual tennis match with its Planning Commission over the issue of non-rental guest apartments, or "mother-in-law apartments," to the layperson.

The discussion arose as an outgrowth of debate surrounding principal structures on properties. As it stands, Afton allows infirmed family members to live in manufactured homes as temporary living units. It also allows for duplexes on some properties, but that was it, as far as ordinance allowed.

Looking to accommodate "multi-generational" housing, yet wary of those who might exploit such an arrangement, the council first took up the issue in January.

The discussion has volleyed back and forth with the Planning Commission, who last week recommended making no changes to existing ordinance. The city would continue allowing family members -- and extended-stay guests -- to live rent-free under the same roof, provided they meet certain criteria.

This makes sense.

In this day and age when health care becomes evermore costly and unwieldy, and families are forced to make hard decisions, it's only reasonable to keep that option open for Afton residents. When grandma or grandpa need somewhere to go, it's always comforting to know that they can move in with family if that's what everyone wants.

Families shouldn't be penalized for that, and we're pleased to see Afton Planning Commission isn't putting up additional roadblocks. There shouldn't be disincentives for families to seek the living arrangements they deem necessary. And they sure don't need housing inspectors rapping on the door to make sure grandma's the only one in her room.

The council should accept the Planning Commission's recommendation when it comes up next week. The issue has received months of debate and much careful thought. That ought to be enough.

It would seem like common sense to us, at least.

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