Whether or not residents of Cape Charles will be able to use those detached structures in their backyards for rental income is still being worked by the Planning Commission. Trying to create some form of governance relative to room and bedroom sizes, as well as rental options, is still in the creation process. According to the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, accessory dwellings could be used to “promote compatible infill development and renovation within established neighborhoods, and promote accessory dwelling units to add diversity of housing types, while maintaining the neighborhood character and providing affordable housing options”.
The Town’s Zoning Ordinance uses this definition: “a subordinate and separate building located upon the same lot occupied by the main structure or where a main structure was previously located. Accessory buildings shall not be used as dwelling units.”
Even as accessory dwellings appear to be desired by the Comprehensive Plan, they are still prohibited by the zoning ordinance. This issue was brought before Town Council several years ago, but it was shot down.
Planner Larry DiRe, in his staff report notes that the Comprehensive Plan addresses affordable housing and the Zoning Ordinance Article I states that “reasonable consideration” should be given “to promote affordable housing.”
“What exactly do they mean by affordable housing?” asked Commissioner Dan Burke. To Burke’s question, if creating affordable housing for the Town is a central goal for allowing accessory dwellings, defining just what ‘affordable housing’ means will have to be part of the new ordinance.
At the August 4th meeting the Planning Commission directed staff to bring draft text amendment language to the Commissioners incorporating the bedroom minimum square footage requirement into the draft amendment to Article IV Section 4.2.K.A.2 “Accessory dwelling housing one occupant shall have a floor area of at least 250 square feet.”