County residents can now receive a break when trying to build accessory dwellings such as tiny houses and in-law suites.
The Frederick County Council passed a pair of bills Tuesday that cut some of the fees associated with building a home and expedites the process for approval.
Both bills passed 4-2 with councilmen Kirby Delauter (R) and Billy Shreve (R) opposing. Councilman Tony Chmelik (R) did not attend.
The first bill allows administrative approval of the regulatory requirements for construction of accessory dwelling units that are less than 800 square feet. If the dwelling unit is more than 800 square feet, the resident would need approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals.
Residents are also now exempt from paying school impact fees associated with building in the county if they build an accessory dwelling of 800 square feet or less — the rationale being that occupants of accessory dwelling units are typically older and don’t have school-aged children, so the schools don’t see an impact. Impact fees for single-family detached houses and town houses and duplexes are roughly $15,500. Impact fees for other residences, such as apartments and condominiums, are $6,676.
Since accessory dwellings greater than 800 square feet are more comparable to an apartment or condo, the bill retains the current requirements for payment of the public school development impact fees for those larger units.
According to a fiscal and policy note accompanying the bill, data over the last 10 years showed there are approximately two accessory dwellings built per year. Assuming half of those are less than 800 square feet, the county expects a net decrease in revenue of only about $6,291, according to the fiscal note.
That difference could be offset by an increase in school development impact fee revenue from the units over 800 square feet since the legislation encourages construction of accessory dwelling units in general, the policy note said.