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For Immediate Release: Wednesday, October 10, 2018

ZTA 18-07 streamlines certain approval requirements, making it easier to build accessory apartments

ROCKVILLE, Md., Oct. 10, 2018—The Montgomery County Council has unanimously enacted Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 18-07, Accessory Residential Use – Accessory Apartments. The goal of ZTA 18-07 is to streamline the process to create more affordable housing options. Accessory apartments and other accessory dwelling units can help provide new possibilities for young people entering the labor and housing markets, people who have difficulty finding housing options within commuting distance of their work and seniors who prefer to age in place, among others.

Council President Hans Riemer and Councilmembers Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Roger Berliner are the lead sponsors.

“There is a real housing crunch in our community, and we need to embrace more solutions to create housing. The high cost of housing, including for renters, is making Montgomery County increasingly unaffordable,” said Council President Riemer, who serves on the Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee. “There isn’t just one solution for this issue, but having more accessory residential units provides a good affordable option for a lot of people who need one, including young workers and seniors. Often the housing type will bring different generations of one family together on one property. By streamlining the rules for accessory dwelling units, we can improve the quality of rental housing and encourage more homeowners to build higher quality rental units. It is a win-win.”

Accessory dwelling units (also known as in-law suites, accessory units and by many other names), include living spaces constructed over garages, basement apartments and even tiny backyard homes. These types of units can provide environmental, life-style and financial benefits. ZTA 18-07 would remove the requirement for conditional use approval for all accessory apartments and revise the limited use provisions for attached and detached accessory apartments. A conditional use is one that requires a subjective finding of compatibility after a public hearing. It is decided by a County hearing examiner and can be appealed to the Board of Appeals. A limited use allows the Council to detail standards under which a use is acceptable.

“The simpler we make the process, the more accessory units we will get,” said Councilmember Nancy Floreen, who serves as chair of the PHED Committee. “I am delighted the Council took this step today in our continuing work to expand the number of homes for our families of modest means.”

“Accessory apartments provide housing opportunities to workers, students, younger people and other diverse constituents, while at the same time enabling homeowners to earn an income to help them cover the high cost of living in Montgomery County,” said Councilmember Leventhal, who serves on the PHED Committee. “I'm glad we've passed this legislation to streamline and simplify the process to bring more accessory apartments into being.”

ZTA 18-07 will take effect later this month.

The Council staff report on ZTA 18-07 can be viewed here.

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Release ID: 18-258
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7926, Juan Jovel 240-777-7931