Accessory Dwelling Units

In 2021, Metro Council passed an ordinance revising the Land Development Code allowing some applications for accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, to be reviewed administratively by Planning & Design Services (PDS) staff rather than requiring applicants to go through the lengthier conditional use permit process.

Prior to the ordinance, ADUs were permitted; however applicants were required to obtain conditional use permits in most residential single-family residential zoning districts prior to submitting building permits. A conditional use permit is approved or denied by the Board of Zoning Adjustment on a case by case basis following a public hearing.

The amended regulations allow ADUs in single-family residential zoning districts (R-R, R-E, R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, R-5, and U-N) by right if the following special standards are met. These applications are reviewed administratively by PDS staff, usually as part of a building permit application (if a building permit is required). If a standard cannot be met, the application cannot be approved administratively and the applicant must submit a conditional use permit and justify why the standard cannot be met. Such applications will be decided upon by the Board of Zoning Adjustment at a public hearing.

What is an ADU?

An ADU is a smaller, secondary dwelling unit located on the same lot as a principal dwelling. ADUs provide complete, independent living facilities (which at a minimum includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation which are accessed independently). An ADU shall not constitute a dwelling unit for purposes of calculating permissible density. There are two types of ADUs:

  • Attached ADUs are connected to or part of the principal dwelling. Examples include converted living space, attached garages, basements or attics; additions; or a combination thereof.
  • Detached ADUs are separate accessory structures from the principal dwelling. Examples include converted garages or new construction.
Special Standards for ADUs in the R-R, R-E, R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, R-5, and U-N Zoning Districts
  • Only one ADU, either attached or detached, is permitted per single family dwelling per lot.
  • An ADU's size may be up to 800 square feet or 30 percent of the gross floor area of the principal structure, whichever is greater.
  • Location:
    • Attached ADU - the yard or setback requirements of the principal structure shall be met and it shall be located either to the side or behind the principal structure.
    • Detached ADU - the yard or setback requirements of an accessory structure shall be met and it shall be located either to the side or behind the principal structure.
  • Access:
    • Attached ADU - an exterior staircase used to access a second story or higher ADU shall not be located on the front façade of the structure.
    • Detached ADU - the exterior pedestrian entrance to the ADU shall be located facing the principal structure or side yard.
  • Maximum Height:
    • Attached ADU - the maximum height shall not exceed the height of the principal structure.
    • Detached ADU - the maximum height shall not exceed the maximum height permitted for an accessory structure in accordance with Chapter 5 of the LDC or the height of the principal structure.
  • ADUs approved shall not be used as a short term rental unless a conditional use permit for the short term rental use is obtained.
  • Any property that has been subject to a zoning, property maintenance, or building code violation in the 12 months prior to application shall be reviewed and approved by the Directors of PDS and Codes & Regulations, or their designees. Any violations shall be resolved prior to approval.
  • Off-street parking shall meet the requirements of Chapter 9 of the LDC.
  • ADUs that include new construction that results in habitable floor area (for example, additions to principal structures or new accessory structures) shall not be allowed on any areas of lots that contain environmental constraints (LDC Section 4.6.2.A).
  • The owner of the property shall reside within either the principal or the accessory dwelling unit.
  • These provisions do not override any deed restriction or homeowners’ association declarations restricting ADUs.
Ordinance and Planning Commission Staff Report

To learn more, please click here to view the Ordinance and click here to view the April 14, 2021 Planning Commission staff report

List of Accessory Dwelling Unit Applications

Please click here to view a list of accessory dwelling unit applications that were submitted for administrative review (last updated January 6, 2022). This list will be updated online regularly.

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