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ADU Controversy in Montgomery County, Maryland

The Montgomery County Council is preparing to vote on an amendment that would loosen restrictions on the controversial building type known as accessory dwelling units (ADUs).
July 9, 2019, 6am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Montgomery County Residential Homes
Nicole S Glass

One of the country's most famous suburban counties could add a significant amount of building capacity if the Montgomery County Council votes to approve new accessory dwelling unit (ADU) regulations in a vote on July 16.

Ally Schweitzer reports on the controversy surrounding Zoning Text Amendment 19-01, which "would slash some of the red tape that can complicate the process of adding a separate apartment to a single-family lot. It would eliminate a requirement that neighborhoods can only have one ADU every 300 or 500 feet, depending on the zone they’re in. The proposal would also remove a ban on tiny homes and other detached apartments on smaller lots, like those often found in Silver Spring and Bethesda."

Schweitzer starts the article with the story of an ADU owner that believes ADUs could make her part of country much more affordable for "senior citizens, hourly wage-earners and people just entering the workforce."

There are many others in the county, however, who oppose the loosening of ADU regulations on multiple grounds. According to Schweitzer, "opponents of the measure say adding more ADUs could crowd neighborhoods, worsen traffic congestion and exacerbate stormwater drainage issues, all while failing to create more affordable housing options. Others predict they’ll attract too many low-income residents, bringing down property values in the process."

One such resident made that last opinion clear with a letter to the editor of The Washington Post, prompting a reply on Facebook from Montgomery Countil Councilmember Nancy Navarro.

Montgomery County has been making news recently for struggling to adopt the systems and priorities of a more urban-oriented building pattern, approving a building moratorium in response to school overcrowding and also cutting back on bus service in recent weeks.

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Published on Monday, July 8, 2019 in WAMU
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