Frederick will allow residents to construct accessory dwelling units on their property beginning Oct. 18 after a vote by the city’s aldermen Thursday night.
Under the ordinance proposed by Alderman Derek Shackelford, the term accessory dwelling unit could be applied to a unit within a larger building or one that is detached from the main structure.
Shackelford, Donna Kuzemchak and Ben MacShane supported the measure, with Kelly Russell and Roger Wilson opposed.
Shackelford’s proposal will 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 will 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 will have to live in either the ADU or the main residence on the property, and an additional parking space will usually have to be added. Leases will have to be for at least 90 days.
While an ADU on a residential property will be allowed through a building permit, one on a nonresidential lot will be considered a conditional use and be required to be integrated into the main building.
An ADU added as part of an existing building cannot be more than 35 percent of the gross floor area of the main building, and any separate entrance will have to be on the rear of the building or a side that does not face the street.
The exterior products used to build a detached unit will have to be the same as those used to build the main structure and include various design standards, unless the Planning Commission changes the rules.
Several public commenters expressed fear the ordinance will threaten the fabric of neighborhoods in the city.
MacShane said he supported the proposal as an opportunity for many families in the city, especially those with seniors or younger members such as recent college graduates. Many other cities have similar policies, he said.
“This is not a new concept. We are not actually breaking any ground here,” MacShane said.
Russell thanked Shackelford for his work on the legislation, but said she had concerns about the lack of notification and feedback that neighbors would have under the law.
Wilson said he believes ADUs can be a valuable tool in creating affordable housing. But he believes more input for community members was necessary.
Because of online meetings during the pandemic, some members of the public weren’t able to participate in the discussion as much as possible, he said.
Shackelford and Kuzemchak pushed back on that idea, arguing that the aldermen passed a comprehensive plan and other legislation during the pandemic.
Shackelford said he was “dismayed” by some of the comments he’s gotten, including beliefs that “certain people are going to move into certain neighborhoods” and impact those areas.