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Arlington County Board Approves Accessory Dwellings
Board Also Allows Non-Relatives in Family/Caregiver Suites
On July 19, 2008 the Arlington County Board approved amendments to the Zoning Ordinance that will allow accessory dwellings in single-family homes and non-relatives to live in family/caregiver suites in single-family homes. Key elements of the approved changes to the Zoning Ordinance are provided in a summary.
The Board also enacted strict requirements for accessory dwellings, including a cap that will restrict the number of new accessory dwellings to no more than 28 a year. In addition, the Board authorized staff to prepare, before the end of the year, a proposed Zoning Ordinance change that would provide for civil penalties for zoning violations, including overcrowding.
- The maximum size is 500 square feet.
- It may only be occupied by up to two persons who may be either: 1) related to the occupants of the main dwelling by blood, marriage, adoption or foster care; or 2) unrelated to the occupants of the main dwelling, provided that one of the suite occupants is a caregiver for an elder, a person with a disability or a child who is an occupant of the main dwelling.
These changes were made in 2008 and came after months of public discussion and review by civic associations and County advisory boards. Board members said the moves will accomplish several goals:
- Help elders age in place
- Increase the stock of affordable housing, with little government investment
- Provide an income stream for homeowners to reduce housing costs
- The County Board only allows up to 28 new accessory dwellings a year, although number that does not include bringing existing ADs into code compliance.
- Only one accessory dwelling would be allowed per lot, and only as a part of the main dwelling, not as a separate building.
- The homeowner must occupy the house for a minimum of one year immediately prior to approval of a new AD Permit.
- The size of the accessory dwelling is limited to no more than 750 square feet. Learn more about maximum size restrictions here.
- The owner must agree to cooperate with Code Enforcement staff for annual inspections and in
response to complaints.
- Up to two persons, who may be unrelated to the homeowners, could be housed in the accessory dwelling.
- The lot must meet minimum lot area requirements of its zoning district and must have an average
width of at least 50 feet.
- There are additional building code implications for homes with two-dwelling units, outlined here.
- Accessory dwelling application packet: includes filing instructions, application, accessory dwelling record, accessory dwelling covenant, affidavit of compliance, and the preoccupancy permit application.
County Board Report on Accessory Dwelling Proposal
(Note: The final County Board report, its attachments, and the Summary of Recommendations are available on the web, as well as the PowerPoint presentation.)
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Housing Commission Accessory Dwelling Report
On December 10, 2007, the Housing Commission approved its Accessory Dwelling Report recommending that the County Board amend the Zoning Ordinance to permit Accessory Dwellings.
The links for each jurisdiction below include highlights of its accessory dwelling ordinance and a link to the locality's ordinance.
State Accessory Dwelling Laws
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