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Burlington City Council Approves Measures to Encourage ADUs

Small town main street. Livable Communities.
Shannon Keegan

Burlington took a major step forward this week in approving zoning reforms that encourage the development of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in city neighborhoods. Thanks to pressure from AARP Vermont and other groups, the city Ordinance Committee and the Planning Commission recommended changes that were unanimously approved by the City Council on February 18, 2020.

ADUs are small houses or apartments that exist on the same property lot as a single-family residence, and play a major role in addressing the needs of elders and other family members. ADUs are often located above a garage, in a basement, or as a backyard cottage. Often referred to as “mother in law apartments”, ADUs are re-emerging as an affordable and flexible housing option.

Below are the approved amendments:

· Enable ADUs as a permitted use for single-family homes in all zoning districts.

· Increase the maximum size for ADUs to accommodate their location on lots with smaller homes, by adding an alternative maximum size of 800 square feet.

· Allow for a portion of the lot coverage associated with a detached ADU to be exempt based on a stormwater impact review provision in order to accommodate ADUs on smaller lots.

· Eliminate the parking requirement associated with an ADU and enable stacked parking for ADUs.

· Streamlined permitting -- Creating an ADU is no longer a primary reason for a project to go to DRB. Removed conditional use requirement for creating an ADU.

“Prior to this ordinance change, Burlington homeowners and builders alike faced significant regulatory and permitting hurdles to move forward,” said Greg Marchildon, AARP Vermont state director. “These changes clear the way for more residents to consider this option for their property. We’re very pleased with the city’s action on these important reforms.”

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