Temporary health care structures? Town says ‘no thanks’ to state law

No ailing mothers-in-law setting up camp in a granny pods!

Ridgefield has officially opted out of a new state law that requires towns to allow “temporary health care structures” (THCSs) as accessory uses to single-family homes, allowing for the care of a “mentally or physically impaired person” at home.

The opt-out was enacted by a 4-0 vote of the Board of Selectmen at its Oct. 25 meeting, and followed up on an earlier public hearing and vote by the Planning and Zoning Commission to opt out of the law.

The law defines “temporary health care structures” as “mobile residential structures in which a caregiver can provide care for the impaired person.”

In a memorandum to the Planning and Zoning Commission before its Sept. 26 meeting on the health care structures, Planning and Zoning Director Richard Baldelli said, “The THCS can be anything mobile, i.e., a shed on a trailer, a camper, a nanny pod, a converted storage container or box trailer, etc.”

At the Oct. 25 selectmen’s meeting, Baldelli said the health care function that the temporary units were meant for could be adequately served under Ridgefield’s accessory apartment unit regulation, which was adopted in 1999 and has been modified over the years to be more user friendly.

“It seems to be working out well,” Baldelli said of the accessory unit regulation. “Obviously, the town’s not being overrun with them. I think we’ve done 100 since the regulation was adopted.”

Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark made the motion to opt out of the state law requiring that the temporary health care structure be allowed, and it was seconded by Selectman Bob Hebert.