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'Mother-in laws' get a pass from panel

Family members officially can stay in the same residence with their loved ones - and they don't need an ordinance in order to do it.

Afton Planning Commission discussed non-rental guest apartments during its April 1 meeting.

Planning Commission ultimately decided that family members, or extended-stay guests, are allowed to stay at residences in Afton under the city's current ordinances.

The topic of non-rental guest apartments, or "mother-in-law apartments" dates back several months and came out of discussions regarding the definitions and uses of principal and accessory structure.

Afton's code currently allows for manufactured homes to be used as a temporary living unit for temporary workers or for the care of infirmed family members.

The city's ordinance also allows for duplexes in the rural residential district on lots of 10 acres or more.

However, Planning Commission's initial view was that neither ordinance adequately addressed the idea of "multi-generational," or "guest accommodations."

But, during last Monday's meeting, Planning Commission took a different approach.

"We don't have anything there, we don't need anything further," Planning Commission Chairwoman Barbara Ronningen said. "We can leave it as it stands."

Ronningen said the issue of the apartment becoming a rental is regulated through the city's code that doesn't allow for rental apartments within the city.

"We don't allow a rental," she said, "and this is not a rental."

Additionally, the ordinance Planning Commission had been discussing stated that the apartments could not have a separate entrance or separate utilities.

If there were to be a separate entrance, and a fire wall, that would fall under the duplex definition, Ronningen said.

"If grandma wants to come and live in your house, so be it," she said. "All these other things would be covered by current ordinances and building code.

"You're not changing the house at all, so you don't need to change the code."

Planning Commission will recommend to Afton City Council that the ordinances remain the same at the April 16 meeting.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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