The Rockland City Council gave unanimous preliminary approval Dec. 14 to amending the city's residential ordinances to allow for detached apartments on single-family lots.

Mayor Ed Glaser said a workshop would be held in January to allow for the public and Council to discuss the issue. A formal public hearing and possible final vote are scheduled for Feb. 8.

The Council heard from several residents — some who opposed the proposed change and others who support it.

Jim Kalloch said he was tired the issue came up again, whether the units are called accessory apartments, garage apartments or in-law apartments.

"There are so many other things you could be talking about," Kalloch said, saying lowering taxes and maintaining roads should be priority over pet projects of people from "out-of-state."

Adele Grossman Faber and Barry Faber also voiced opposition, saying it went against the comprehensive plan and would allow small houses potentially in back, front and side yards of residences across the city.

Anna Queen of Rockland said she has an accessory apartment that has allowed a rehabilitation of a home to be financially feasible and provide housing to two young people who work in Rockland.

"Finding creative solutions to housing issues is imperative at this time. Rockland thrives on the diversity of the residents and the economy. I urge the Council to set aside fear of change and positive development and support this measure," Queen said.

The ordinance amendment would allow a second dwelling unit on a single family lot that could be detached from the main home.

The second dwelling must be owned by the same owners as the main home and owners must live in one of the units. There must be one parking space provided for the additional residence.

The new proposal does not include the sweeping changes included in the measure that generated considerable opposition beginning in late 2018.

The City Council approved those changes in January 2019, but rescinded its actions April 1 of that year, as it faced a court appeal and a petition signed by more than 523 residents that would have placed a referendum before voters to repeal the law and prohibit it from consideration again for five years.

Councilor Nate Davis, who is a sponsor of the ordinance amendment, said the number of signatures gathered on the petition does not indicate the measure is not supported by the majority of Rockland residents. He said he signed the petition so the issue could be put before Rockland residents.

Councilor Ben Dorr, who is also sponsoring the ordinance, said many people of his age group want to live in smaller houses, and living in houses larger than 800 square feet is cost prohibited for many people.

The ordinance amendment does not alter the minimum residential size which is 425 square feet.