ZOUTF Task #5: Encourage Accessory Dwellings

Decatur already allows for accessory dwellings (aka garage apartments, aka backyard apartments, aka an escape from your loud family), but Task 15b of the 2010 Decatur Strategic Plan calls for greater support of accessory dwellings.

The Zoning Ordinance Update Task Force’s March presentation notes that current regulations surrounding accessory BUILDINGS enforce an 1,000 sq/ft limit, a maximum height of 25 ft, and need to be set back 3′ from the property line.  They are allowed to have a full bath and a kitchen, with the exception of a stove. Accessory DWELLINGS on the other hand have a different set regulations, including occupancy is limited to two people, lots must be in excess of 12,000 sq/ft and be more than 75′ wide, and they must meet the same rear and side yard setbacks of the main house.

There are a number of proposed changes to this ordinance.  Here they are, right out of the presentation…

Any size lot can build an Accessory Dwelling if the following requirements are met:

  • 1 unit is owner occupied
  • Same side and rear yard setbacks as the main house
  • Provide 1 off street parking space per lot
  • Is within the 40% floor area and lot coverage maximum
  • Is within the maximum 25 foot building height limit

Proposed changes to Accessory Buildings:

To further distinguish the difference between buildings and dwellings, the following changes are suggested:

  • A maximum height limit of 15 feet for accessory buildings.
  • No more than a ½ bath (sink & toilet) can be built in accessory buildings.

Additional changes to encourage Accessory Dwellings:

  • Allow attic and basement apartments to be considered accessory dwelling units.
  • Should the city provide pre-approved plans for accessory dwelling units, similar to Seattle, WA.

Got opinions/feedback?  Email Decatur’s Planning Director directly at [email protected]

Photo courtesy of Modern Shed