Elrich Proposes Levying Impact Fees on Accessory Housing Units

Elrich Proposes Levying Impact Fees on Accessory Housing Units

Homeowners could be forced to pay $25,000 to $50,000, council member says

| Published:

Dan Schere

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is proposing impact fees for some new accessory dwelling units in the county, similar to fees developers pay for single-family homes.

A bill introduced by County Council member Hans Riemer would allow ADUs, sometimes known as in-law apartments, in three additional residential zones, with a maximum area of 1,200 square feet, or 10% of the size of the property.

The council discussed Riemer’s proposal at its meeting Tuesday.

Elrich, who made affordable housing a key component of his election campaign last year, has opposed the ADU expansion, arguing that adding the units will lead to increased traffic, school crowding, potential stormwater runoff and other aesthetic issues.

In a memo to the council, Elrich proposed a number of amendments to Riemer’s bill that call for  banning detached units in some areas,  prohibiting ADUs from being used as short-term rentals such as Airbnb; and requiring impact fees for detached ADUs with more than one bedroom to “offset additional infrastructure costs.”

Developers must pay impact taxes on new residential and commercial buildings to help fund improvements for transportation and public schools. Riemer, in an interview, said this can result in fees of between $25,000 and $50,000.

“So [Marc] Elrich has said that some ADUs should be subject to that, but as a result you’ll have units that might have to spend more on taxes than on construction. I just thought that was particularly egregious,” Riemer said.

Riemer, during Tuesday’s meeting, said previous statements by Elrich about his proposed zoning change were factually untrue, which he said was “regrettable.” He said there is already specific language in the bill that prohibits the ADUs from being used as short-term rentals and “the same stormwater rules apply that apply to regular structures.”

Most council members appeared supportive of the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting, although some more  cautious than others.

“I think on the whole there’s a lot of good here, but I’m concerned about the potential disruption to communities and the potential pitting of neighbors against neighbors,”  council member Gabe Albornoz said.

Council President Nancy Navarro wrote in a statement that the council hopes to serve both seniors who wish to age in place, and residents in their 20s and 30s, with the legislation.

“We know that housing affordability can be an issue for many young people who are just starting off and would like to live in our County.  We know that many of our elder residents have homes that have risen in value beyond what they can afford in terms of taxes and upkeep; it seems to me that this proposal would meet that need,” she wrote.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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