Saturday, January 12, 2019

Accessory Apartments Zoning Text Amendment introduced

On Tuesday Councilmember Hans Riemer will introduce a proposed amendment to the Zoning Text which would pretty much eliminate barriers to any size attached or detached apartments in a residential zone. The public hearing for this amendment is Feb 26, 7:30 pm. Consider the parking needs, additional traffic on neighborhood roads, and school overcrowding and please read the below.

The proposed change would, among other things:

"remove the requirement for additional use approval for all accessory apartments"
"change the measure of the size of an accessory apartment from 50% of gross floor area to 50% of habitable floor area"
"delete the absolute maximum size of an accessory apartment" (currently 1,200 square feet)
"delete the maximum size of an addition that can be used as an accessory apartment" (currently limited to 800 square feet)
"delete the requirement that a detached accessory apartment be on a lot at least 1 acre in size"

20190115_4A by on Scribd


  1. Architect Roger Lewis, in his Nov.2, 2018 Washington Post (online) article about Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), presents the issues surrounding having ADUs in residential neighborhoods. The following risks and potential negative impacts that he identifies should not be cavalierly dismissed: changing neighborhood character and demographics associated with increasing density; residential neighborhood commercialization; infrastructure overload, including schools; on-street parking demand and competition; reduced residential market values yet possibly rising property taxes based on commercialization; and noise, truck traffic and debris associated with disruptive new construction on moderately sized lots facing relative narrow subdivision streets. See

  2. Thank you Hans!

    The primary reason that electeds like Hans are pushing for ADU-reform is that a small, but very vocal contingent of NIMBYs has a disproportionate amount of power over local zoning decisions in such a way that it precludes anything from being built other than a single-family home. You can't have it both ways - if you don't want ADUs to be legal, then yield some power and do not oppose the development of new living spaces, especially near transit-rich locations like Metro and the forthcoming Purple Line stations.

    1. Nice try, but no. Zoning is set up for specific reasons, including school capacity. If you think the people that are opposed to overcrowded schools are a "small" group of NIMBYs then think again. Either you live in a cave or you are a paid lobbyist for Mr. Riemer's agenda. There are thousands upon thousands of people in Montgomery County who are opposed to overcrowded schools. So what's your next excuse for this zoning change?

    2. These will be single family homes. Just built on 1/4-acre or 1/2- acre lots where there are already single family homes. Read the legislation. It strips the existing zoning of a maximum on the size of the stand-alone units. Those used to be called stove pipes.

  3. Your comment that 'NIMBYs have a disproportionate amount of power over local zoning decisions.' Is that a bad thing? Neighbors having power over zoning decisions that affect their neighborhood instead of developers, for a change? That is actually a good thing. Input from neighborhoods who have purchased homes because of the character of their neighborhood, its density, traffic, etc. Most people in this county purchased because they want to live in the suburbs. This change in the zoning ordinance would transform those single-family neighborhoods into high-density neighborhoods with less green space. Read the legislation and the staff memo.

  4. Councilmember Hans Riemer's post today on Facebook:
    "Here is a good thought piece by Seth Grimes about how the county can promote housing affordability".

    From the article:
    "My lot is 7,500 sq. ft. and could easily fit a second, smaller home in the back yard."

    1. Maximum size restrictions will be deleted, so while its cute to think of a 'second, smaller home' there will be no regulation requiring that the 'second home' be small. There is a lot of propaganda coming out from those who want this to happen. The only thing that will count is the actual regulation.

    2. And if everyone implemented what Mr. Grimes is saying, which would be their right under Riemer's proposal, his neighborhood would double in size. There would be double the demand for sewer, electrical and gas, roads, transit, schools, parks, sidewalks, infrastructure.

    3. What about my own affordable housing? The Riemer ZTA eliminates controls and protections in the existing zoning law and it allows apartments and additional dwellings to be added to properties throughout single-family neighborhoods. The ZTA could have adverse effects on neighborhoods and cause deflation of our home values. As a retiree, whether I choose to rely upon a reverse mortgage to stay in my home and age in place, or whether I sell my home and move, I need to rely upon my equity (home value).
      Also, where is the evidence to back up the proponents’ claims that ADUs would bring affordable housing? County Executive Elrich correctly noted during his January 16th Budget Forum, there is no assurance that the ADUs will be rented at affordable rates.

  5. The anecdote about how an ADU might work out well for Seth Grimes doesn't diminish concerns about the harmful effects upon some neighbors, and some renters, too. The County abandoned any meaningful oversight of ADUs long ago. It leaves it to neighbors to monitor and complain. No thanks!


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