Differences over what types of lots they should be allowed on and the length of leases they should require are a few of the issues that Frederick officials will have to address as the city works toward developing a policy to allow the construction of smaller accessory homes.
The city’s aldermen will have to decide whether leases for so-called accessory dwelling units should have to be for 30 days, 90 days or longer in order to prevent the use of the buildings for use as an AirBnB or other short-term rental locations. They’ll also examine what kind of parking those units should require, whether they should be allowed on all single-family and duplex lots in the city and how sites should be permitted or approved.
The mayor and aldermen discussed a proposal from Alderman Derek Shackelford at a workshop Wednesday, the latest of three workshops on the issue since 2019.
Shackelford’s proposal would allow one dwelling of up to 800 square feet on all single-family and duplex lots in the city. Construction of internal, attached or detached units would require a building permit from the city and be limited to two stories or the height of the main residence on the property, whichever is less.
A property owner would have to live in either the ADU or the main residence on the property, and no additional parking would be required. Leases would have to be for at least 30 days.
Shackelford said he thinks allowing the structures would be a “win-win” for the city, providing appropriately-priced housing, flexibility for younger residents looking for cheaper housing alternatives, and letting seniors age in place.
Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak said she supports the idea of ADUs, but she has questions about the height, parking and lease requirements in Shackelford’s proposal. Still, she supports moving forward with addressing the issue.
Alderwoman Kelly Russell also expressed concerns about parking and making sure the units are proportional to not only the main homes on their properties, but also properties around them.
Russell said she’s not opposed to the proposal altogether, but she’d like to see some controls.
Alderman Roger Wilson also said he’s not opposed to allowing ADUs in the city, but he has concerns about the short-term rental issue and some other details.
Frederick County requires owners of ADUs to sign a form to show that they’re in compliance with the 30-day lease requirements. They can pull the certificate of occupancy for the ADU if it’s found that they’re not, said Joe Adkins, the city’s deputy director for planning.
On the size issue, Kuzemchak said the units would need to be the same general size as the homes that are already in the neighborhood.
Alderman Ben MacShane argued the current proposal allows a maximum of two stories, but only if the main residence is already two stories.
Mark Long of the Frederick County Affordable Housing Council said the council “wholeheartedly” supports the proposal.
Long suggested the city consider allowing units bigger than 800 square feet with approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Malcolm Furgol, director of community impact and grants for the United Way of Frederick County, said ADUs would be an additional way to increase the amount of affordable housing in the community.
Mayor Michael O’Connor said Wednesday wouldn’t be the board’s last discussion of the issue, nor would it be the last chance for the public to weigh in.