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“We are doing this because families want to live more and more,” Hans Riemer, a board member and lead sponsor of the law, told WTOP. “Adult children want to be able to live with their parents or grandparents. Families want to be able to invite grandparents or adult children to live with them or host a tenant. Riemer said he hoped the measure would help displaced people in the county. The issues of income distribution, demographic change, affordability and access to housing, and more, were raised during the debate on the issue, and some of the rhetoric became ugly. Critics expressed concern that the units would lead to congested public facilities such as parking lots and schools, or feared they would “change the character of the neighborhood.” County Executive Marc Elrich issued a letter in March acknowledging the county`s affordability issues but still opposing the update. In addition, properties subject to a homeowners` association (HOA) should review their HOA rules regarding ADUs. Some HOAs may require board approval of an ADU and many may ban ADUs altogether. Although there are movements in some regions to prohibit HOAs from excluding UDAs in planned developments, most state and local governments have yet to pass such laws. The county`s director of planning, Gwen Wright, is quoted in the article as saying that the county could expect to develop about 100 UDAs per year. As part of the DC metropolitan area, parts of Maryland are experiencing escalating real estate prices. In some parts of the county, more than 64,000 households spent more than 30 percent of their monthly annual income on housing in 2015.

Even in wealthier areas like Chevy Chase and Bethesda, more than 25 percent of households were considered “home-burdened.” I am pleased that the county is proposing to relax some of the current ADU requirements. We`re growing as a county, and I`d rather see more people live denser (and hopefully near some sort of public transit) than build more single-family homes on land. This type of land use serves only a few people. We need to use our land more intensively so that more people can live nearby, closer to amenities (shopping, leisure, entertainment, schools, libraries) – just like European cities and Japan. The idea of single-family homes on almost separate plots (note, I said “almost”) dictates the use of a car to get to everything. Cars clog our roads (note Hogan`s $9-11 billion expansion plan of $270/$495, which he says will reduce congestion). Cars emit more greenhouse gases per passenger-mile than public transit. Transit can only exist where there is sufficient density. We need to take care of the planet and we have about 10 years to reverse our trajectory in terms of greenhouse gases.

We cannot continue to live carelessly in a bubble. We`re increasing the county`s population, creating jobs, and we need more people so people can live – and live closer to each other (*not* further apart). According to county regulations, secondary dwellings must meet all requirements of the International Building Code and/or International Housing Law. This means that small houses, such as those shown on TV, may not be allowed. The amendment to Zoning Text (ZTA) 19-01, as introduced by Montgomery Councilman Hans Riemer on January 15, 2019, would remove or mitigate some of the barriers to the creation of ancillary units in a county that currently produces only about 40 ADUs per year. The revisions are part of a larger effort to address a significant housing need in the county. Studies show continued population growth with a projected increase of more than 60,000 new households by 2040. Officials believe reduced restrictions on zoning single-family homes will allow for a wider variety of housing types for singles, young adults, seniors or anyone who needs a smaller, more affordable location. “We need options for the `missing link,` and UDAs are just part of the formula for solving the broader housing problem,” said William Kirwan, director of Muse Architects in Bethesda and former chairman of the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission. While UDAs are not new in Montgomery County, Maryland, in 2019, the county council approved an amendment to the county`s zoning ordinance that makes it easier for homeowners to add ADUs.

ADUs previously approved as conditional uses are grandfathered, notwithstanding any changes to the UDA`s requirements in the new law. For context, county planning director Gwen Wright said she would be thrilled if the update produced another 100 additional openings a year across the county. While the numbers are not yet known, it is true that residents are now more likely to see one appear in their neighborhood or even in their own backyard. This is the essence of what has changed. The concept is gaining popularity nationwide, but few people seem to know that it is allowed here. In 2020, the county issued only six permits for segregated UDAs, according to the Department of Licensing Services. The Bacon project was one of them. “The new rules came into effect just months before the pandemic, so I think 2021 will be busier,” Saul said. The social and financial benefits of UDAs are numerous. Because of their low cost and immediate feasibility, these auxiliary apartments are an effective way to address the housing shortage in our county and allow homeowners to create them on their own property. They are also an extremely advantageous alternative to urban sprawl, as small apartments are located in existing neighbourhoods where services and infrastructure are already in place and where jobs, shops and leisure facilities are nearby. The approved change affected only a handful of clauses in existing zoning rules, but the impact of some of these changes is significant for a large portion of properties.

Key points of the new zoning code include: The ADU requires its own entrance, either on the side or at the back of the main house. You must provide a parking space and a lighted path from the parking lot to the entrance of the ADU. If you live within 1 mile of a subway, you don`t need to provide parking. Licences are issued by the Ministry of Housing and Community Affairs, and they maintain an official Class 3 Accessory Apartment Licence page. (Note: As of April 8, 2020, many links on this website are broken.) The ability to deploy UDAs in the most common suburban residential areas should provide more flexibility for families looking for housing options for in-laws, adult children, or potential rental income.


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