Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ October 2019

County Council Passes ADU Legislation, Prepares to Take Up Rental Housing Licensing Bill

By Sharon Canavan

In late July, the Montgomery County Council approved Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 19-01, which removes restrictions on accessory dwelling units (ADUs).  An ADU is a separate living unit on a single family lot, which can include, for example, a basement apartment, an addition to an existing house, or construction of a detached backyard cottage.  These zoning changes, which go into effect on December 31st, allow ADUs as a limited use in R200, R90, and R60 zones. The NFCCA area is zoned R60 residential.

The zoning legislation limits the size of a detached ADU to 50% of the footprint of the primary dwelling, or 10% of the lot size, or 1,200 square feet, whichever is lowest.  It also clarifies that existing rules — such as side and rear setbacks, height limits, maximum lot coverage requirements, and stormwater requirements — still apply.  Three off-street spaces are required for properties in areas farther than one mile from a Metro, Purple Line, or MARC station.

The Council and the County Executive are now turning their focus to improving housing code enforcement.  County residents and community associations have raised concerns about insufficient enforcement of licensing requirements for single family rental properties and for housing code violations.  In response, the Council agreed to add three new code enforcement positions.  Also, the vacant position for director of the Department of Housing and Community Affairs was recently filled.

The Council’s next step will be to take up companion legislation, Bill 22-19, to amend the licensing code.  This legislation proposes to require property owners to reside either in the primary dwelling or the ADU.  Applicants seeking an ADU license must also certify that applicable Homeowners Association standards and notice requirements are met.  The legislation also proposes quarterly reporting by the County Executive on ADU-related problems (such as housing maintenance standards, parking, and solid waste disposal) and semiannual meetings with County residents to discuss these problems.   ■

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