Accessory Dwelling Units

Mordecai CAC Study

Last updated Sep. 03, 2018 - 4:14 pm
Backyard Cottage

In October, 2015, residents of the Mordecai neighborhood presented a Petition of Citizens to the Raleigh City Council requesting that a process be initiated to permit “Accessory Dwelling Units” (ADUs) in the Mordecai Citizens Advisory Council. The request followed a NCSU student project exploring ADU opportunities in the neighborhood.

An ADU, also known as a “granny flat” or “backyard cottage,” is a free-standing, second residence sharing the same lot as the main house on an individual parcel. ADUs are not currently permitted in Raleigh. Standards for their approval were considered in 2011, with additional possible refinements discussed in 2013, but no provisions have yet been adopted.

City Council has referred the new Mordecai request to city staff for study. Staff analysis has explored multi-unit/single site options currently permitted by Code (e.g., duplexes, apartment buildings, cottage court), plus potential new options which could allow ADUs under specified circumstances (i.e., by Special Use Permit, or within a new type of zoning Overlay District, or a combination of the two).

Why ADUs?

In other communities, ADUs have proven to be a popular means of expanding housing options, providing independent living quarters for aging or other family members, and granting property owners an added source of income. Concerns have centered on potential impacts to neighborhood built character, and possible increase in numbers of rental units.

As noted in the Staff analysis linked above, though, several options are already available in Raleigh which permit more than one dwelling per residential lot. Under consideration now are whether and what specific standards might be adopted for specifically allowing ADUs, likely on an “opt-in” basis (i.e., in areas where they are expressly wanted by property owners).

Study Area Survey

To gauge interest and perspectives regarding ADUs within the Mordecai study area, a survey of property owners in the neighborhood was conducted in July, 2016. The survey asked whether ADUs should be allowed, and if so, what standards should be applied for ADU building form and placement, access/ parking, and transitions/ buffers with neighboring properties.

Access the results of the survey.

What's Ahead

City Council Directive

Planning staff outlined the survey findings to the Mordecai CAC in September, 2016. The following month, staff presented the survey results and a summary of the CAC discussion to City Council, along with possible next steps--among them whether an amendment should be made to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) addressing ADUs.

City Council directed staff to draft regulatory standards for an Accessory Dwelling Overlay District, a new zoning classification which could be available to neighborhoods wishing to permit ADUs within a specified area of the city, on an opt-in basis. (Note that ADUs would only be allowed there if a formal rezoning request is filed and approved—a separate, subsequent process from creating the text change.)

Text Change Committee Discussion

Initial review of the draft UDO amendment is being led by the Text Change Committee of the Raleigh Planning Commission, beginning in March, 2017.

The committee will make a recommendation to the full Planning Commission; the Commission will consider that recommendation and then forward a collective recommendation to City Council. Council has final authority regarding ordinance content and adoption.

Meetings of the Text Change Committee, the Raleigh Planning Commission, and the City Council are open to the public.

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