Berkeley Lake council rejects accessory housing ordinance

BERKELEY LAKE -- Amid obvious public opposition, Berkeley Lake City Council members voted against adopting an ordinance that set down guidelines for accessory housing on private properties.

An issue that the governing body has reviewed and considered for several months, the proposed ordinance was intended to help senior citizens afford to stay in their homes as long as possible by having a renter or additional residence on or in the property.

Councilman Frank Lombardi said Thursday that he had received no fewer than 15 e-mails from residents expressing opposition to the ordinance. Some cited decreased property values as the reason, and others expressed concern that Berkeley Lake would lose its character if such arrangements were permitted.

Councilwoman Debbie Guthrie said Thursday that the proposed ordinance would not have helped senior citizens, as they are already permitted to have roommates in their homes.

"If the city wants seniors to stay in their homes, they should give tax breaks" that parallel similar county tax breaks.

Councilwoman Rebecca Spitler said that since the ordinance could not be written to target senior citizens but must encompass all residents, the realized effect would be detrimental to the city.

Council members voted unanimously against adopting the ordinance.