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Amendment will allow Accessory Dwelling Units

At the December Colonial Beach Planning Commission meeting, Director of Building and Zoning Gary Mitchel and Josh Frederick, brought forward a very rough draft of a zoning regulation change that would permit Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) in Colonial Beach. Currently the town is not zoned for these but

some residents already have them. If passed, the ordinance would allow all existing accessory dwellings to be grandfathered in and future accessory dwellings would be under code guidelines which would make them safer.

In order to keep up with the growing trend of multi-generational living within the same property, Mitchell proposed amending the zoning regulations to include ADUs in Colonial Beach which would provide separate living spaces but remain as part of the original dwelling and not a second home on the property.

Detached ADU’s will be permitted but will adhere to existing setback regulations for accessory uses in R-1 and R-2 districts. Unlike other accessory dwelling though they would be allowed to be built up to thirty-five feet in height.

Examples of multi-generational dwelling would be parents living in the home of their children, parents providing apartment living for their adult children or when a family member has lost their home and reside with parents or in-laws until they can reestablish their own residence.

 

The economic benefits to these living situations can be endless. Furthermore providing separate living quarters can preserve family relations as well as allow elderly parents or adult children some dignity in these situations.

The draft proposal restricts ADUs to only one per single-family detached dwelling and limits the  accessory dwelling to two bedrooms.

The ADUs would not carry a second 911 address and utilities would remain in the owners name. With these regulations the ADU does not become a second home on the property which is currently prohibited.

Entrances to the ADU would not be allowed in the front of the original home and the external appearance will match the existing home.

One off-street parking space must be provided for the ADU.

An ADU is limited to 25% or 750 square feet of the habitable space of the main building, whichever is less. Any ADUs larger may be permitted by special exception not to exceed 950 square feet or 40% of the habitable space.

Mitchell explained to the commission that many of the existing ADUs began as a garage or storage building and were later converted to apartments. These apartments have not been regulated by building codes suited for habitation.

Currently when a homeowner comes to the building and zoning office asking to add on an apartment, Mitchell said, he has to tell them no. Mitchell believes this type of building should be allowed and regulated to avoid any danger to occupants.

Urquhart commended Mitchell saying, “We know there are existing units. I like that Gary and Josh are taking a proactive approach.” Urquhart said that between the baby boomers and the economy, this will fill a need for the future of our town.

Chairman Holt feels this regulation would help homeowners when selling their houses by having accessory dwellings.

The draft ordinance states ADUs shall not be any of the following; travel trailers, campers, motor homes/recreational vehicles, tents, camp cabins, shipping containers, auto trailers or semi-trailers or mobile/manufactured homes.

Urquhart questioned shipping containers, siting a new trend being observed, where homeowners are recycling industrial shipping containers and converting them to houses for living spaces. Mitchell said when they are converted they are considered acceptable.

Commissioners, David Coombes, Ed Grant and Kent Rodeheaver had some reservations at first but after questions and discussions seemed to be in favor of moving forward with the proposed zoning ordinance amendment.

Linda Farneth

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