County Considers Accessory Dwelling Setback Requirements

Also known as backyard cottages or in-law suites, accessory dwellings are helpful tools for providing additional housing options throughout our community. Although they are not required to be rented at affordable rates, they are more likely than other new apartments to be affordable given their modest size and features.

Also known as backyard cottages or in-law suites, accessory dwellings are helpful tools for providing additional housing options throughout our community. Although they are not required to be rented at affordable rates, they are more likely than other new apartments to be affordable given their modest size and features.

The County took a step toward approval of new detached Accessory Dwelling units at its April 25 recessed meeting with the approval of a Request to Advertise Accessory Dwelling zoning changes.

The key issue for analysis and approval has been the setbacks that would be required for new Accessory Dwellings.

In late 2017, staff recommended that new detached ADs be allowed at the same setbacks as currently allowed for other accessory buildings such as garages, which is one foot from the side and rear property lines. At that time the County Board asked staff to do further analysis on the setback option sprior to approving construction of new external ADs.

The board did allow conversions of existing detached structures to become ADs as long as only internal modifications were needed.

After conducting research on setbacks used in other jurisdictions, staff returned with a proposal to allow new ADs with a side and rear setback of five feet, rather than the original one foot proposed in 2017.

At the April 25, 2019 meeting the County Board voted to advertise an option for them to approve the original 1-foot setbacks as well as the staff recommendation of 5 feet (any distance between 1-5 feet can be approved).

The board will make their final decision at the May 18 County Board meeting.

Learn more about Accessory Dwellings and how they can benefit a community.