A large crowd attended a Jan. 9 policy forum on proposed zoning text amendments for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The forum, held at the Montgomery County Council office building in Rockville, was put together by At-Large County Councilmember Hans Riemer (D).
Riemer, who is chair of the council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, began with an overview. This was followed by presentations by Lisa Govoni, county housing planner, and John Paukstis, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland. All three answered questions from attendees following their presentations.
Riemer stated, “An Accessory Dwelling Unit (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 tenant in an ADU does not have access to the rest of the home.” ADUs are referred to as “accessory apartments” in Montgomery County zoning code.
Govoni spoke on how the proposed zoning text amendments address changing needs, including the increase in the number of people who want to age in place.
Paukstis, who said his Habitat for Humanity served Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, spoke about how helpful ADUs are for older people in the community.
After the presentation, Riemer said that the changes are needed to remove restrictions that are a detriment to developing ADUs. Interest in these changes is high because the price of housing was so high in the county, he added. Older folks worry about what they are going to do when they retire, if their kids return home after college, or if they experience a divorce.
Riemer said the benefits of ADUs are many, including providing more affordable housing in areas of the county that have become prohibitively expensive. Some of the proposed zoning text amendments address proximity to another unit, change restrictions on a backyard cottage by reducing the one-acre requirement, allow an ADU in a basement, change size limitations, and require two off-street parking spaces.
The next step in the process will be a public hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m. in the 3rd Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville. Following the public hearing, the Montgomery County Council will take up the proposed text amendment.