Montgomery council OKs simplified approval process for accessory apartments -- Gazette.Net


After about a decade, the process for adding accessory apartments is now simpler.

With just a few final tweaks Tuesday, Montgomery County Council unanimously passed a zoning text amendment and a bill that work together to simplify the process for getting permission to have an accessory apartment, which is an extra dwelling unit that is part of a single-family home.

Together the two actions permit some of the apartments, in certain circumstances, without special approval, but also establish a process where the community can challenge determinations on applications.

However, applicants who want to waive requirements for minimum distance or on-site parking will still need to seek special approval.

“This initiative has been out there for 10 years, perhaps even longer than that and we have found a way through it and everyone deserves tremendous praise,” Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park said.

Floreen, who chairs the council’s Planning Housing and Economic Development committee, said the change is a great step forward.

She voted against two last-minute amendments to the zoning change by Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda.

The rest of the council supported Berliner’s amendments which reduced the maximum size of an accessory apartment from 2,500 square feet to 1,200 square feet and required that the existing home where the apartment is to be added be at least 5 years old.

Proposals to ease the process of getting permission to build an accessory apartment have been floated before.

In 2004, then-County Executive Douglas M. Duncan’s plan failed to advance to a council vote.

In 2008, an affordable housing task force asked County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) to call for zoning law changes.