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Thread: Accessory dwelling units in suburaban/rural areas

  1. #1
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    Accessory dwelling units in suburaban/rural areas

    We are in the process of writing some guidelines for suburban/rural accessory dwelling units. (which have never been allowed here)

    Does anyone have examples of other cities/counties that have codes addressing this in suburban to rural areas?

    Suburban meaning minimum lot sizes of 5,000 sq at least but closer to 7,000 sq.


    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    Check the Regulatory Barriers Clearing house (RBC) database at HUD:

    http://www.huduser.org/portal/rbcsearch

    A quick one-second search turned up a few, including a model ordinance from AARP/APA.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ThePinkPlanner's avatar
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    In VT, state statute requires that they be allowed in all municipalities and in all districts. We allowed them before that passed as statute though. We don't limit them to rural districts, but hey, its VT. 98% of the state would be considered rural to most. The only 'problem' I'd say we've had is that we dont' seem to have the ability under state statute to impose a maximum size. I'd recommend this if you have that ability. When you have a home that is 6000 SF, you end up with an accessory "apartment" of nearly 2000 SF. Here are our regulations:

    One (1) accessory residential unit constructed within or attached to a primary single-family dwelling or within an existing, permitted accessory structure may be permitted by the Development Review Board in accordance with Article 14, Site Plan Review and the following criteria:

    (1) Floor space of the accessory residential unit shall not exceed thirty percent (30%) of the total habitable area of the single-family dwelling unit.

    (2) The principal dwelling shall be owner-occupied.

    (3) Adequate wastewater capacity is available to service the accessory unit, as demonstrated by issuance of a Wastewater Allocation or on-site wastewater permit pursuant to the South Burlington Sewage Ordinance.

    (4) Two (2) additional off-street parking spaces shall be provided on the same lot, either in a garage or in a driveway, and not in any areas required to meet coverage limitations, or any front yard area other than a driveway, required by these Regulations.

    (5) If occupancy of the unit is to be restricted in the deed of the single-family home to a disabled person, no additional off-street parking is required.

    (6) A zoning permit shall be required for each accessory residential unit.

    Conditional Use Review by the Development Review Board pursuant to Article 14, Section 14.10 shall be required if the establishment of the accessory residential unit involves the construction of a new accessory structure, an increase in the height or floor area of the existing single-family dwelling or existing accessory structure, or an increase in the dimensions of the off-street parking areas (i.e. garages and driveway areas) presently existing on the site.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ThePinkPlanner View post
    (2) The principal dwelling shall be owner-occupied.

    (5) If occupancy of the unit is to be restricted in the deed of the single-family home to a disabled person, no additional off-street parking is required.
    I can see how these provisions would be enforced at the time of the application for the accessory dwelling, but how do you control this after the ADU is constructed? Say, ten years from now when I move out of my home with an ADU and rent both the main portion and the ADU? Or, if future owners want to rent an ADU with a disabled deed restriction to someone who isn't disabled? Or even if I as the owner want to move into the ADU and rent the principal residence? What is the enforcement mechanism?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ThePinkPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JimPlans View post
    I can see how these provisions would be enforced at the time of the application for the accessory dwelling, but how do you control this after the ADU is constructed? Say, ten years from now when I move out of my home with an ADU and rent both the main portion and the ADU? Or, if future owners want to rent an ADU with a disabled deed restriction to someone who isn't disabled? Or even if I as the owner want to move into the ADU and rent the principal residence? What is the enforcement mechanism?

    Sadly, about the same as it is with anything that is interior to a building and difficult to view. It certainly is not perfect, though we generally hear about it from neighbors when both sides are rented. Don't underestimate the ability of nosy abutters to squeal We've had doubts from time to time and have asked people to provide us with tax certification of their primary address, but that isn't perfect either. It is recorded as a deed restriction, but that only helps when it comes time to sell/purchase.

    As for the last part, about living in the ADU and renting the principal portion, that is an amendment that the Planning Commission is reviewing right now. I'm sort of on the fence on that one, but the PC seems to be leaning towards allowing it.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    In my opinion, the worst regulations are those that demand the person renting the accessory apartment be related to the homeowner. It turns the zoning office into the "Genetics Police" in trying to determine if people are related.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    I think Atherton, CA may have recently introduced new rules to promote accessory housing in the form of second homes on existing developed parcels (maids' and mothers-in-laws' cottages and the like).

    They seem to be doing it to meet Fair Housing Act requirements, believe-it-or not.. or at least to attempt to allay their own fears that the town's exclusivity might lead to unwelcome FHA attention. It's kind of a NIMBY's strategy for FHA compliance while still avoiding upzoning any land to true multi-family, and really defeats the point, I think (we still don't want affordable housing, but we'll find a way so that our servants can live near the Big House).. and it's probably not going to save them from getting Fair Lawn'ed or Mt Kisco'ed, if somebody actually decides to sue. Too little, too late, and goshdarned patronizing to boot, although I suppose it's better than neighboring Palo Alto's solution to the same problem (draw an incorporation boundary around the wealthiest SFD tracts, consigning the rest to be the Crime Capital of California).
    Last edited by Cismontane; 04 Jan 2011 at 11:53 AM.

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