‘Granny flats’ approved by Plan Commission, headed for City Council in Lake Forest

The Lake Forest Plan Commission gave its final stamp of approval July 31 to a proposed change in City Code to allow “granny flats” — secondary living units — on certain residential properties in town.

The matter next will head to the City Council. Alderman may consider setting up legal provisions for granny flats as early as Sept. 2, according to Director of Community Development Cathy Czerniak.

The Plan Commission unanimously approved the following provisions to permit secondary living quarters in certain residential areas only if:

• The owner lives on the property.

• There are no more than two granny flats per single-family property.

• Adequate on-site parking is provided for renters.

• The rental units are accessible by a driveway located on the property, unless there is an access easement across a neighboring property.

• The rental unit lies at least 20 feet from all property lines, unless a variance is granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

• All rental units are registered with the city.

• No more than three people unrelated by blood, marriage or adoption live in a single rental unit.

If approved by the City Council, the code changes likely would grandfather in structures that are a part of a former large estate, such as coach houses, garage apartments and cottages, that have been rented continuously.

The commissioners asked for some clarification before voting unanimously to forward the matter to the City Council for its consideration.

Commissioner Jeff Kuchman questioned the need for requiring owners of rental accessory structures to register with the city.

“Police and fire would like to know there’s a second living unit” on a property, Czerniak said, explaining that the new provisions are designed with public safety in mind, rather than to discourage residents from turning an existing structure into a rental unit.

No audience members offered comment during the public hearing, which was continued from July 9.

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