Norwood Young America is the latest metro-area city to consider so-called granny flats to accommodate its aging community.
The City Council discussed zoning for accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, during a Planning Commission meeting Tuesday. ADUs are small secondary housing units built on lots that already have a house.
City Council members have proposed offering the option of ADUs to aging residents who want to stay in the community, where they can be close to family.
The proposal could be approved early next year.
The city has sent out a survey to residents asking for their thoughts on the housing option. City Administrator Steve Helget said the city recognizes that seniors are looking to stay close to home.
"We are trying to fill a need," he said.
Carver County, which counted about 5,200 residents 65 and older in 2000, expects to see about 24,500 senior residents by 2030. Construction is underway for an additional assisted-living facility with about 35 units in the Norwood Young America area.
"Norwood Young America has done the fantastic job of being proactive in addressing the desire to keep residents in the community to live out their life span," said Cynthia Smith-Strack, a consulting planner for the city.
Metro-area suburbs including Bloomington, Roseville and Shore view approved ADUs early on. But due to strict regulations, some of those cities are seeing few residents apply for ADUs.
Minneapolis approved ADUs for the entire city in 2014, while in St. Paul the concept sparked intense debate among residents who feared that such additions would change the character of their neighborhoods.
Supporters of the units said they would allow baby boomers to remain independent and still live near their families. Opponents argued that ADUs would compound density, block views, shrink green space and add unwelcome new rentals to single-family home neighborhoods.
"We like the option of tiny houses, which meet a family need and are convenient," said Jean Wood, executive director of the Minnesota Board on Aging. "They seem reasonable in cost, fairly easy to install and flexible for both the person who lives in the tiny house and for the family in the permanent home."
In rural Norwood Young America, space is not an issue.
Norwood Young America City Council Member Dick Stolz said that if the community doesn't adjust to the growing needs of aging residents, they will leave the community.
"If we can do something to try to keep them here, we want to do that," he said.