Proposed 2023 Accessory Apartment Zoning Amendments


May 4, 2023

The Planning Board is working on amendments to the Accessory Apartment Zoning Bylaw (Section 407) for the 2023 fall Special Town Meeting.  The amendments focus on creating more opportunities for additional year-round rental housing to help with our serious housing crunch while maintaining the residential character of our neighborhoods.  

The Board has spent many months deliberating over various provisions and listening to public comments to develop a Draft Accessory Apartment Zoning Amendment to present to the public for further input through a series of Listening Sessions.  To accommodate busy schedules, the same general session will be given on three different days and locations:

  • June 7, 2023 at 6 PM – In-Person & Remote Access Meeting:  Town Hall Hearing Room, 1146 Route 28, South Yarmouth
    1. Zoom Link:
    2. Phone:   +1 301 715 8592 and enter webinar ID: 898 3641 5124
  • June 14, 2023 at 6 PM - In-Person Meeting:  Yarmouth Senior Center, 528 Forest Road, West Yarmouth
  • June 26, 2023 at 6 PM - In-Person Meeting:  Yarmouth Fire Station #2, 340 Route 6a, Yarmouth Port (please park behind the fire station, only handicap parking in the front)

If you would like to submit questions before the Listening Sessions, please send to Town Planner Kathy Williams at 

The current Draft Accessory Apartment Zoning Amendment and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Accessory Apartments can be viewed here and include detailed information on how the Accessory Apartments will be regulated to meet the intended purpose.  Briefly, the Draft includes the following provisions:   

  • Property owner must occupy the home as their primary residence.
  • One Accessory Apartment per lot.
  • 10,000 square foot (sf) minimum lot size for studios/1-bedrooms and 15,000 sf for 2-bedroom units.  Maximum of 2-bedrooms.
  • Maximum unit size for studios/1-bedrooom units limited to 800 sf or 50% of the habitable floor area of the primary residence, whichever is smaller.  Maximum unit size for 2-bedrooom units limited to 900 sf or 50% of the habitable floor area of the primary residence, whichever is smaller.  Minimum unit size of 350 sf, regardless of size of the primary residence.
  • New construction or additions for Accessory Apartments must meet the current zoning setbacks (distances to property lines) and height limitations.
  • Designed to be subordinate to the primary residence, retain the look of a residential property, and be consistent with the design of the primary home. View the AARP ADU Brochure for examples of different types of Accessory Apartments.  
  • Two off-street parking spaces are required for the Accessory Apartment and cannot be located within the green space in front of the primary residence nor within ten feet of the side or rear property lines.   
  • Home Offices and limited Home Occupations (Section 416 of the Zoning Bylaw) which do not have customers, employees, signage and located fully inside are allowed in both the primary residence and Accessory Apartment.
  • Any stormwater runoff from new parking or structures will be retained on-site.  
  • Rental rates and tenants are determined by the property owner.   
  • All Accessory Apartment lease agreements must be for a minimum of 12 consecutive months with no seasonal or Short-Term Rentals or room rentals.  The owner-occupied home cannot be rented in any manner.  
  • Accessory Apartments cannot be sold separately from the primary residence nor placed in a condominium form of ownership.
  • Must meet all other applicable State and local laws, regulations and codes.
  • Building and Health Departments will continue to monitor and regulate Accessory Apartments with annual Affidavits required.
  • Special Permits are required for Accessory Apartment uses, except for three specific circumstances where they would be a by-right use:
  1. Fully Conforming Lot and Structure:  The property remains in full compliance with the current Zoning Bylaw; OR
  2. Existing Conforming or Non-Conforming Structures:  The accessory apartment will be fully located within the existing primary residence without increase in structure height or size except to provide adequate means of entrance/egress for the unit, and is limited to a studio or 1-bedroom unit; OR
  3. Expansion or New Construction:  Any addition or new construction for a detached structure for an accessory apartment that is in full compliance with the current height requirements and dimensional standards, is constructed on a minimum 25,000 square foot lot, and is limited to a studio or 1-bedroom unit.

Regardless of the above, an Accessory Apartment use requires a Special Permit when located in the Aquifer Protection District (APD).

  • Provisions included to address existing Family-Related and Affordable Accessory Apartments through maintaining the status quo, allowing for conversion to an unrestricted Accessory Apartment via a Special Permit, and maintaining the same procedure for transfer upon sale.  New Accessory Apartments transfer upon sale and require a new Affidavit to the Building Commissioner within 45-days.

You can also refer to the Table of Residential Property Sizes and Map of Residential Properties of Various Sizes to get a general understanding of residential lots sizes in Yarmouth.  Find out information on your parcel size or those in your neighborhood through:

  • Assessor’s on-line database at  Type in your address and scroll down to land size.  To convert your lot size in acres to square feet, multiply by 43,560 square feet per acre.
  • Interactive Geographic Information Systems Map at Type in your address in the search box and hit enter.  The map will go to that address, and you can click on the parcel with your cursor to see the square footage.