Frederick’s aldermen will consider later this month whether — and under what conditions — to allow homeowners in the city to build smaller homes on their property.

A public hearing on the city’s policies regarding accessory dwelling units is scheduled for Aug. 19 after being discussed at a workshop Wednesday afternoon. It was the aldermen’s fourth workshop on the topic dating back to December 2019.

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’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 an additional parking space would usually have to be added. Leases would have to be for at least 90 days.

While an ADU on a residential property would be allowed through a building permit, one on a nonresidential lot would be considered a conditional use and be required to be integrated into the main building.

An ADU added as part of an existing building could not be more than 35 percent of the gross floor area of the main building, and any separate entrance would 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 would 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.

Alderman Roger Wilson asked Director of Current Planning Gabrielle Collard what impact the units might have on affordable housing in the city.

Studies haven’t shown that ADUs are significantly more affordable than apartments or other multi-family housing units, Collard said, but the more places where you can create housing options, the better.

“It’s a tool in that toolbox,” she said.

One piece of legislation won’t solve the problem of affordable housing, Shackelford said, but allowing ADUs would provide options for seniors to stay in place as they age, or for young workers the city want to keep in Frederick.

“This is just an opportunity for another option,” he said.

Alderman Kelly Russell said that while not everyone in a neighborhood will build an ADU, if they did, it could double the density in a neighborhood from what’s allowed by zoning.

Alderman Ben MacShane said he doubts too many city residents would choose to build units, especially in more expensive neighborhoods. MacShane said he had “no fear that this will be a widespread phenomenon, popping up left and right.”

Wilson asked whether the city would keep a registry or database of the units to help with code enforcement issues. No registry is being proposed, and the city’s code enforcement policy is generally driven by complaints that are received, Collard said.

With the public hearing scheduled for Aug. 19, Mayor Michael O’Connor urged the aldermen to get any further proposed changes in “post haste.”

Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter: @RMarshallFNP

Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at

(13) comments


Lewis: Yes I have a garage (fully permitted) which I thought was a potential for an ADU, but the costs of getting utilities connected and parking requirement rule it out. Plus the zoning is wrong.


Put a provision in that it will triple their real estate taxes. Bingo, problem solved.


So you want govt to punish people with taxes? What is it with you libruls?


That should make Frederick a mess.


The 'mess' of different uses, different styles, and different aged buildings -- its lack of planning -- is exactly what gives Frederick, especially the downtown, its character and its charm. Those who want a planned and orderly environment should live in a sterile HOA-controlled estate or in Urbana.


[thumbup]peter YES Kind of too easy to tell from quotes which aldermen live where neighbors can’t imagine ever living in their own backyards while so many trendy retirement options still remain to anyone of means.


Dwasserba, Spare us your over-the-top liberal tripe (by the way, I'm a liberal but not a d--mn fool liberal). The neighborhoods that would be most affected are those

areas where blue collar families made the biggest investment of their lives to settle in single family developments with guaranteed zoning protection. The opposition to this is about the environment, the preservation of green space and the fear of more storm water flooding and the preservation of the Frederick Historic District, the economic engine which drives downtown Frederick. Bob Lewis


HOAs keep the neighborhood planing in the hands of the actual home owners, not the government. Many people don’t want to live in the kind of mess you envision. The opposite of mess is not “sterile.”


7stones: yes I was being flippant embracing the term 'mess.' But many people would like to like in a less regimented environment where they could build an ADU. It would give them another source of income and in the process provide a bit more housing. Others, on higher incomes, wouldn't want to do that. People should have the choice.


petersamuel, You have already built your ADDU and I suspect without city approval. This will be a windfall for you. Bob Lewis


Did you report him?


pubiic-redux I didn't have to. Mr Samuel gave a little presentation to the Board and Mayor, complete with photographs.


I'm downtown and we don't have the single family zoning where this measure applies so it doesn't change anything for me. And I haven't built an ADDU or anything else without city appproval.

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