UPDATE: ADU ordinance moves to full council

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UPDATE SEPTEMBER 14, 2021 11:30 P.M.:

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lexington’s Planning and Public Safety Committee met Tuesday to discuss a proposed ordinance for accessory dwelling units, ADU’s. After a long back-and-forth for four hours, the ordinance was passed with amendments to be sent to the full council on October 12th.

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“This is an important housing option that provides flexibility for everyone in our community as family needs evolve and change,” says Chris Woodall, Lexington’s manager for long-range planning. “It’s a small but critical piece of a comprehensive housing strategy and it’s one that’s important for the ones it’s important for.”

During the meeting, many people from all over Lexington addressed the committee giving them their thoughts on the ordinance. While some support ADU’s for offering a solution to Lexington’s housing crisis, others were opposed to these structures being used for purposes other than for the elderly or people with disabilities.

“It will create an increase in socialization, a decrease in depression, which equals an overall increase in health and well-being and the pandemic has shown us what isolation can do, especially to seniors or disabled persons,” says a community member in favor of the law.

“As more people move in, if this goes through, the commitment to the neighborhood by short-term renters is not the same as people who own the property,” says a woman opposed to legalizing ADU’s. “The property is not getting any cheaper in Chevy Chase, I promise you, and the addition of more housing there will not help that.”

The committee passed amendments to the ordinance which will not legalize newly constructed detached units as ADU’s but those that are pre-existing would be grandfathered in. Lawmakers say this still allows for conversion of existing property to be done. The ordinance with the amendments will be sent to Lexington’s work session in October.

ORIGINAL POST:

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – People who want to add “in-law suites” to homes in Lexington are finally getting some attention again.

Lexington lawmakers haven’t considered ‘Accessory Dwelling Units,’ or ADUs, since 2019.

The small housing units can be a part of, or detached from, an existing home.

Tuesday, the Urban County Council heard from some people for and against the units.

Brittany Roethemeier, executive director of Fayette Alliance said allowing homeowners to build accessory dwelling units is one to address Lexington’s need for more housing.

“As a community, we really need to be looking at all the solutions that we can to address our housing challenges and increase accessibility and affordability and diversity in our housing supply,” Roethemeier said.

During the council meeting, Planning Director James Duncan rehashed what was discussed in 2019, and the feedback the public gave.

In response, the board made several changes to the ordinance:

  • Only two adults, plus any related kids, can live in an ADU.
  • Homeowners can’t use an ADU as a short term rental without a special permit.
  • The homeowner must live in one of the two units.
  • If the home is sold, the new owner will be told all restrictions and given tools to remove the ADU, if desired.
  • Lastly, interested homeowners must go through a pre-application process.

Still, some people oppose it. They said it’ll ultimately cause disturbances.

“We in the neighborhood don’t like having to be in adversarial relationships with our rental neighbors,” one person in attendance said.

Council Member James Brown said he sees both sides, and wants to take the time to address all concerns while tackling the larger problem.

“Housing is always a pressing issue in Lexington and especially housing affordability in our city,” Brown said.

Larry Frakes, a lending manager at Guardian Bank, agrees housing is becoming more scarce, but warns homeowners they might not get the return on investment they expect if they try to sell their home with an ADU.

“It’s the refinancing, or the sale of that property, that somewhere down the road that could catch up with you if there’s not enough like-kind properties to try to justify the value that you think you have in that property,” Frakes said.

The council is planning a special meeting along with a public hearing.

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Bobbi McSwine joined the ABC 36 News Team in March 2020. She started as a Web Content Producer in November 2019. She was born and raised in Chicago, IL, known to many as the “Windy City.” She studied journalism at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. While in school, she had a number of internships ranging from Free Spirit Media, ABC 7 Chicago and Illinois Public Media. She fell in love with writing in high school and paired that with a newfound passion for storytelling in college. She misses her hometown, but she loves the horses and rich history in Lexington. When she’s not working, she’s probably listening to music or binge-watching Netflix. She’s always looking to get to know more people in Central Kentucky, so feel free to shoot her a message on Facebook @BobbiWTVQ, follow her on Twitter @McSwineB_News, or send her an email at bmcswine@wtvq.com.