April 14, 2017 Elizabeth Ward

ADU Update + Call to Action!

If you’re wondering what happened to our ADU dreams, you’ll be happy to hear that we have been working diligently over the past few months to make them a reality. First, we are wrapping up construction document sets for our two ADU prototypes and hope to have final pricing on these in the next few weeks. Stay tuned! Second, we have been working with the city to revise the R-5 zoning legislation to allow ADUs as-of-right, in addition to the already allowed Guest Houses (check out the map or the City of Atlanta website to see where R-5 zoning exists). The proposed zoning changes passed ZRB last night and will now move on to the City Council Zoning Committee for review. Read on to find out the specifics of the zoning changes and how you can help make sure they happen! And if you’re still unclear on the benefits of ADUs / why we think this is important legislation, check out our previous post.

What do the R-5 zoning changes entail?

  • As you may recall from previous posts, Guest Houses by definition cannot be leased longer than 90 days and cannot have full cooking facilities (this means no stoves). The Accessory Dwelling Unit definition will allow for long-term leases AND full cooking facilities.
  • Guest Houses do not count towards your allowable buildable square footage, but ADUs do. This means that if you want to add an ADU to your lot, you can’t max out your main house’s square footage. Most existing houses don’t max out their square footage anyway, so this is likely a non-issue for most folks. It’s also a great way to maintain the existing scale / fabric of neighborhoods (ie limit McMansions!)
  • R-5 is duplex zoning; therefore, second units are already allowed. The amended ordinance will allow a lot to be subdivided in a zero lot-line fashion (currently allowed) so that each unit of a duplex can have its own ADU.  However, everything is still limited by the lot coverage and square footage limitations of the overall zoning.
  • While ADUs may be no closer to neighboring houses than to the primary house on a lot, ADU side and rear setbacks are 4’-0” instead of the standard 7’-0”.

What has not changed?

  • As with Guest Houses, ADUs cannot be sold separately from the main house (hence the term accessory).
  • The total number of units on the property cannot exceed two, including the ADU.
  • Except in the case of home occupations, no accessory use shall be permitted or allowed for a commercial nature.
  • The unit must be 750 SF or less.
  • Lot coverage requirements and square footage limitations of the overall zoning remain in effect for both Guest Houses and ADUs: 20’-0” height limit, 25% rear yard coverage, 55% lot coverage 50% FAR (65% at lots smaller than 7,500 SF)
  • The ordinance also now allows two-family and duplex uses on substandard lots.  Standard lot size for R-5 is 50’ of frontage and 7,500 SF of area.  If your lot was 1” short, at 49.9’ of frontage, you were prohibited from doing two family as would otherwise be permitted, but with this change you would be able to have an ADU.

Alright, I support this zoning change. How can I help?

  • As mentioned, the changes passed the ZRB last night. We can check step one off the list!
  • The change will now go to the City Council Zoning Committee for review. They will take a vote and make recommendations to the entire City Council.
  • The entire City Council will take a vote.
  • Lastly, the City Council will send the approved ordinance to the mayor, who has 8 days to approve, veto or take no action (which means it passes).

Here’s how you can help: write or call your Councilperson over the next few weeks to express your support for this measure and share this post to make sure the word gets out! If you live in Reynoldstown or Edgewood, it would be exceedingly appropriate for any or all of you to email Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong’s office to convey your support: NArchibong@AtlantaGa.Gov. Other folks can check out the link at http://citycouncil.atlantaga.gov/  to find contact information for other representatives.  Even if there are no R-5 lots in your district, the measure needs to pass City Council vote, so your support is critical no matter where you live. We got this, Atlanta…let’s ADU this!

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