NATION: Manassas City Council discusses 'family'- VA ... 7500&path=

Manassas City Council discusses 'family'

Monday, November 21, 2005

The definition of "family" may change in Manassas, as least in the housing codes.

The Manassas City Council is considering redefining the definition of "family" in an effort to reduce housing overcrowding, which council members say is placing a burden on public facilities and services.

A public hearing on the subject will be held today at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. The council likely will vote on the issue Nov. 28.

The current zoning ordinance addresses restrictions on co-habitants who are non-related, so the city's community development staff has proposed an amendment as it applies to defining the family and new language for the head of household. The amendment, if approved, would limit the number of generations that can reside in one household, without limiting the head of household's number of dependents.

"It does address the trends of building occupancy to eliminate the extension of the family blood line to the fourth, fifth and sixth cousin or relative," according to a staff report prepared by the community development staff.

Currently, the city's housing code defines "family" as two or more persons related by blood, marriage, adoption or guardianship living and cooking together as a single housekeeping unit.

The amendment would restrict those related in a household to "the second degree of collateral consanguinity," based on the relation to the head of household. So, allowed family members would include immediate family, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and first cousins. Zoning officials may require documents, such as birth certificates, drivers' licenses and affidavits, to support claims of those relationships.

The proposal would also include a definition for the "head of household," the person who holds the financial responsibility or moral authority in the household.