Panel also approves Bikways and Trails Plan.
Frederick, Md (KM). Two bills intended to create more affordable housing units were before the Frederick County Council on Tuesday.
One measure would ease some of the regulations on accessory dwelling units. Instead of being known as accessory apartments, the proposed ordinance change will refer to them as accessory dwelling units. They could include apartments, rooms or other housing. “Allowing it to be a separate accessory structure and not only being attached; allowing the owner of the property to reside in the principle residence or the accessory dwelling unit so there’s more flexibility there,:” says Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater, who, along with Council President Bud Otis, is a co-sponsor of this bill.
Supporters say it could create affordable place to lives for seniors and adult children returning home. Bruce Zavos, the chairman of the Affordable Housing Council, says it could help relieve a problem of not enough workforce housing for singles and couples. “The Frederick County Affordable Housing Needs Assessment, commissioned by the County in 2016, confirmed empirically that Frederick County is too expensive for many in our workforce to live,” he said. “Because of the cost of housing in Frederick County, many of our workforce cannot live in the county that they serve.”
The proposed revisions to the local Accessory Dwelling Units ordinance received the support of the Frederick County Building Industry Association. Tracy Klaybaugh, the President of the Land Use Council, read a letter from FCBA President Mark Lancaster. “The uniqueness of this provision is that it allows the private sector to create affordable housing without raising taxes or fees, and very little oversight,” she said.
Earl Robbins, whose running for County Executive as an independent, also expressed support. “I think this is a positive step for making housing accessible for the citizens of Frederick County.
A second bill was also introduced to exempt accessory dwelling units from the school impact fees.
The Council is expected to make a decision at a later date.
Members of the Council also approved the Bikeways and Trails Plan for Frederick County. The vote was 5-2 with Councilmen Billy Shreve and Kirby Delauter in opposition. “It’s a great long term vision. I don’t it’s ever good to prepare something that says we’re going through your land because it upsets the homeowners, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” says Shreve. “We’ve seen that with the River Plan, and I don’t’ think that’s how we should treat our citizens.”
But Councilman Tony Chmelik said there are protections for landowners in this plan. “I don’t think it’s horrible thing to have a document out there this should be something that we like. I think there are protections in this document,” he said.
And Council Vice President MC Keegan-Ayer read a section of the plan. “which spells out very clearly, and it states that ‘the bottom line is that individual property owners rights are always honored and protected under this plan,'” she said.
Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater also cited the plan. “It also states that ‘it is the longstanding policy of Frederick County not to acquire property for trail projects, either in fee simple or easements, from property owners who are unwilling to sell,'” she said.
The plan would set up a framework for creating more bikeway and trails in Frederick County,; but no money was appropriated to carry out the plan. Councilman Jerry Donald hopes there will be funding some day. “I’m excited about the plan. I think it’s a great look to the future. I think this Council or a a future Council needs to look for a dedicated source of funding to make sure the plan becomes reality,” he said.
By Kevin McManus