Council Passes Zoning Changes for Accessory Dwelling Units

The County Council yesterday unanimously passed a zoning text amendment to make it easier for homeowners to add accessory dwelling units to their property.

Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 19-01 – Accessory Residential Units – Accessory Apartments, was sponsored by Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At Large) and was introduced in January.

An ADU is a separate dwelling unit that is on the same lot as a single dwelling unit with its own entrance, full kitchen and bathroom. The ADU tenant does not have access to the rest of the home. Examples include an apartment over a garage, a basement apartment (known as an “English basement”), an in-law suite, or a so-called tiny house on a side lot.

“The high cost of housing in Montgomery County is pricing people out,” said Riemer in a press release. “This important change allows homeowners to build housing that works for their families, and to create better options for renters in communities across Montgomery County. I am grateful for the careful deliberation of my colleagues and their unanimous support, as well as the strong advocacy of the smart growth community—working together we got it done.”

The ZTA makes the following changes to the county’s zoning law, according to the release:

  • Removes the prohibition on detached ADUs in lots smaller than one acre. The size of the detached ADUs must be the smaller of 10 percent of the lot size, 50 percent of the footprint of the principal dwelling; or 1200 square feet. Existing rules limiting the construction of accessory structures apply, including height limits, maximum lot coverage requirements, and storm water requirements. In addition, the greater side and rear setbacks currently required for detached ADUs remain. 
  • Removes the requirement for an additional parking space within one mile of Metro, Purple Line or MARC stations. Proposed ADUs require one off-street parking space in addition to the parking required for each detached house (typically two spaces). For areas outside of one mile, three off-street spaces are still required.
  • Allows for the conversion of existing, legally built structures into ADUs.
  • Clarifies that other rental uses (such as AirBnB) on a property that includes an ADU are prohibited.
  • Removes the prohibition on ADUs in new construction, and
  • Removes the distance requirement restricting ADUs from being built within 300 to 500 feet of an existing ADU.

Bill 22-19 Accessory Dwelling Units – Licensing – Requirements – Amendments was introduced on July 16 to to conform the County Code with changes made by the ZTA 19-01, and address issues surrounding ADUs that could not be addressed in a zoning change.

A public hearing on the bill is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 10 at 1:30 p.m.

The expected changes from the ZTA and Bill 22-19 would go into effect on Dec. 31.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons released by Photos public domain

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