Islamorada council set to discuss accessory dwelling units as possible affordable housing option

Islamorada council members convene for their meeting on Nov. 19. KEYS WEEKLY FILE PHOTO

Islamorada Village Council members set to convene for a meeting Thursday, Dec. 17, will discuss challenges to creating new affordable housing and a possible solution through use of accessory dwelling units. Village staff will look for direction from council during the meeting on whether to proceed with the concept of internal ADUs as affordable housing in existing single-family units. 

Councilman Mark Gregg will bring forth the matter to explore the option that provides additional living quarters, typically on a single-family lot, that are independent of the primary dwelling unit. An ADU can be an apartment within a primary residence. Or it can be an attached or freestanding home on the same lot as the primary residence. 

Referred commonly as granny or mother-in-law flats, they are also known as accessory apartments, garage apartments and backyard cottages. ADUs were a common feature of early 20th century development in America, but their use subsided with the onset of the single-family suburb. 

Eighteen affordable housing allocations are available in the village until 2023, and this includes six allocations established for 2021 through BPAS (building permit allocation system) and three rollover allocations from 2020. The village says a number of new affordable housing projects have come forth that need 50 affordable housing allocations. If the village used the remaining allocation for the remaining years until 2023, there will be a shortage in meeting immediate demand. 

The village does have provisions for “caretaker’s cottages,” which are detached, deed-restricted affordable housing units. However, these units can only be located within the residential conservation and residential low  category of the future land use element of the comprehensive plan. 

In examining the ADU concept, a village memorandum states that the idea is to permit the downstairs unit of existing single-family homes to serve as affordable residential units. 

Councilman Mark Gregg. CONTRIBUTED

“I’m trying to introduce to council and the public to the concept to get them familiar with it and understand what an ADU is or what it could be … and to see how it would function in our community economically and practically,” Gregg said.

Council will also discuss the village manager search and four options available to village council for the selection process. Following the resignation of then-manager Seth Lawless in late August, council voted to appoint Maria Bassett, finance director, to the position of acting village manager through March 1, 2021. Council can extend Bassett’s service as acting manager if more time is needed to seek a candidate for the full-time position as village manager. 

Village staff requested Ken Parker, a volunteer senior advisor with the Florida City and County Managers Association, to remotely participate in the Dec. 17 meeting. 

Per communication to council, Parker outlined that the village could hire an executive search team to develop a profile of characteristics the council desires to have in its next manager. The village could also handle the recruitment process internally and be responsible for conducting background checks and verifications. 

Other options included working directly with a senior advisor through the recruitment process of selecting an internal candidate without going through a recruitment process. 

An update regarding the Florida Department of Transportation’s pedestrian bridge project by Founders Park will be given by Bassett after the village council requested staff compile a timeline of council actions and other events with support documents related to the project. 

As for resolutions, council will consider approval of an agreement with the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners for phase 3 CARES Act funding in the amount of $800,000 for partial reimbursement of payroll remitted to its fire rescue personnel. Council will also consider a resolution to authorize the purchase of 146 Sunshine Blvd. for parks and recreation purposes.

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