Rockville has asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund a pilot project for the construction of experimental "grandparents' cottages."

The program would provide alternative housing for senior citizens who want to live near, but not in with, their children and who do not wish to live in nursing homes.

The city is seeking $142,250 to build five of these prefabricated units, which will then be located near private homes.

The project is modeled after similar undertakings in Australia and New Zealand where the 450-square-foot units with bedroom and living room, kitchen and bath are known as "granny flats." The units also contains lower height light switches, hand rails and other aids to meet the needs of elderly residents.

Rockville intends to own, install and rent these cottages to the elderly parents of persons living in houses next door. The city retains control so that the units can be switched to another location after the parents die or move away.

They may not be used for any other purpose, such as for children or unrelated tenants. Because they are city-controled, no zoning changes are required. Neither are there any tax consequences for the host children.

A public hearing was held last week and the issue was well received, according to Doug Horne, the city council's director of housing and development. No decision has yet been made as to how applicants for the cottages will be selected, if HUD approves the project.