Inclusion | Opportunity | Innovation

Councilmember Hans Riemer introduces zoning amendment to remove restrictions on accessory dwelling units

ROCKVILLE, Md., Jan. 15, 2019—Today Councilmember Hans Riemer introduced Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 19-01 – Accessory Residential Units – Accessory Apartments, a proposal designed to remove barriers that prevent homeowners from building accessory apartments. ZTA 19-01 would, among other things, remove the prohibition on detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in small lot, single family zones and remove the prohibition on ADUs in basements. Certain other restrictions, such as the requirement that the property be owner-occupied, would remain in the law.

ADUs are separate dwelling units on the same property as a single-family residence. Often they are constructed as part of a single house (an “attached” ADU) but they can also be a separate tiny house or cottage, or an apartment above a garage. ADUs have a separate entrance, full kitchen and bathroom. These units, sometimes called in-law suites or granny flats, are great housing options for parents or grandparents, adult children and relatives, individuals with special needs and caregivers, and of course, people generally. ADUs are an inherently affordable form of housing that may allow some people to live in expensive neighborhoods that would otherwise be out of reach.

“ADUs are a wonderful solution for housing different generations of a family and they provide more affordable housing in parts of the County where housing has become prohibitively expensive,” said Councilmember Riemer, who is the chair of the Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee. “Unfortunately, the County’s rules treat this housing type as a nuisance to be avoided rather than a resource to be welcomed. This zoning change aims to change that framework.”

Councilmember Riemer will host a policy forum on ADUs this Saturday, Jan. 19 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. The forum is free and open to the public, RSVP here.

The Council staff report on ZTA 19-01 can be viewed here. A fact sheet compiled by Councilmember Riemer about this legislation and ADUs in general can be viewed here. A public hearing for ZTA 19-01 is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Last year, Councilmember Riemer was a lead sponsor of ZTA 18-07, Accessory Residential Units – Accessory Apartments, along with former Councilmembers Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Roger Berliner, which streamlined the process for creating ADUs by removing the requirement for conditional use approval for all accessory apartments and revising the limited use provisions for attached and detached accessory apartments.

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Council Update — winter storm resources and accessory dwelling units

Dear Resident,

As we are all working to bounce back from the snowstorm’s impact, check our Winter Storm Information Portal or reach out to my office if we can provide assistance, and check out the list of the Best Hills for Sledding in Montgomery County Parks!

On Tuesday, the Council will begin 2019 with a busy session. View the full agenda.

I will be introducing a zoning amendment that makes several needed changes to the County’s accessory dwelling unit (ADU) rules.

ADUs are seperate dwelling units — think “in-law suite,” “tiny house,” etc — on the same lot as a house. Usually they are inside a house, but they can also be a smaller separate house. They have a separate entrance, full kitchen, and bathroom. Many people find that ADUs are a great housing solution for the parents or grandparents of a family, adult children and relatives, adult children with special needs, caregivers, and just generally. They provide more affordable housing in parts of the County where housing has become prohibitively expensive.

Unfortunately, the County’s rules treat this housing type as a nuisance to be avoided rather than a resource to be welcomed. This zoning change aims to change that framework. For details, please take a look at the fact sheet and the text of the zoning change.

To gather input from residents and experts, I will host a policy forum on ADUs on Saturday, January 19 from 10am-Noon in Rockville. If you are interested in learning more about ADUs and the changes I am proposing, please RSVP.

The Council public hearing on the ordinance will be take place in late February.

Following are some additional highlights of the Council’s week:

Public hearings on zoning changes related to Montgomery Mall, the Purple Line, and Farm Alcohol Production
The Council will hold public hearings on three zoning changes that I authored. The first relates to the redevelopment of Montgomery Mall. The second allows higher fence heights for residents adjacent to the Purple Line. The third allows farm breweries and wineries to locate in certain large lot residential zones.

Discussion on financial controls to prevent fraud and theft
In the wake of the recent conviction of a Montgomery County employee for theft of public money, the County Inspector General and executive branch staff will brief the Council on a report that outlines how the theft happened and that recommends countermeasures to prevent this from happening again. The County has already implemented or begun implementing these countermeasures.

Independent Investigation of officer involved death legislation
I have co-sponsored legislation set to be introduced on Tuesday by Councilmember Jawando that would require an independent investigation of every police officer involved death. The goal of the bill is to promote public confidence in these investigations. A public hearing will occur in early March.

Thank you for reading, and please let me know if you need assistance with County services.

Stay safe out there!

Hans Riemer Signature
Hans Riemer
Councilmember, At-large

RideOn adds new service from Clarksburg to Germantown MARC Station at Councilmember Riemer’s request

Council allocated $90,000 in this year’s budget to fund the service, which Clarksburg residents requested

ROCKVILLE, Md., January 8, 2019—Montgomery County RideOn began new service from Clarksburg to the Germantown MARC Station on January 6. RideOn Route 75 will now provide service to the Germantown MARC Station during peak periods. At the request of Councilmember Hans Riemer (At-Large), the Council added almost $90,000 in the fiscal year 2019 operating budget to fund the new service.

“Last year Clarksburg residents approached me asking for a reinstatement of bus service to the Germantown MARC Station,” said Councilmember Riemer, who is chair of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee and a member of the Transportation and Environment Committee. “Previous service had regrettably been ended due to low ridership, which itself was a product of suboptimal alignment with the MARC schedule. Bus service from this part of Clarksburg to Germantown MARC Station is critically important because there is not nearly enough parking at the station.

“Working with these residents, my colleagues on the Council, and RideOn, we were able to fund and design changes to an existing route that will better connect these residents to the MARC system. I am committed to providing reliable and efficient transit options for all residents, from making incremental improvements to RideOn and supporting WMATA to forging ahead on Bus Rapid Transit.”

RideOn Route 75 now makes stops at the Germantown MARC Station from the Germantown Transit Center via Germantown Road (MD 118) during rush hours. It also provides new service along Sycamore Farm Drive and Seneca Meadows Parkway. View the new route and timetable.

Jan 19: policy event about accessory dwelling units

On January 19th, at 10am, please join us for a community policy forum on Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs. This event will take place in Rockville at the Council hearing room. If you are interested in ADUs and how you can support reforms that are needed to create more ADUs, please attend. You may RSVP here.

Thank you,

Hans Riemer Signature

What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?
Picture an apartment over a garage, or a basement apartment (“English basement), or a “tiny house” on a side lot. An Accessory Dwelling Unit has a full kitchen and a bathroom and a separate entrance. It is a second unit in a house or on a lot.

Why Are ADU’s beneficial?
ADU’s are an important housing solution because they provide

  • Housing for children or grandchildren to live separately but close by.
  • Housing for parents or grandparents to live separately but close by.
  • Additional income for retirees or young families to make housing more affordable.
  • More affordable housing in areas of the County that have become prohibitively expensive.

Why do we need to change the rules for ADU’s?
Montgomery County’s current zoning code views ADU’s more as a nuisance to be prevented than a beneficial solution to be encouraged. ADU’s are not allowed unless an expensive driveway is built, or if there is another ADU down the block, or if the house is newly constructed. We need to look at ADU’s as desirable housing and align our policies to support them.