Dayton revises code about ‘granny flats,’ ‘in-law apartments’

Dayton has changed its zoning code to make it easier to create accessory dwelling units, such as housing above a garage or in a free-standing structure in the backyard sometimes called “granny flats” or “in-law apartments.

“This is something municipalities across the country are looking at and saying, ‘You know, maybe something like this could be helpful in addressing the massive housing challenge we have in America,’” said Tony Kroeger, Dayton’s planning division manager.

Accessory dwelling units are smaller, independent residential housing on the same lots as standalone single-family homes, according to the American Planning Association.

Sometimes they are called accessory apartments, secondary suites and granny flats.

Currently, accessory dwelling units are not permitted in Dayton’s zoning code, though property owners can apply for a use variance to create them, Kroeger said.

However, current code has pretty high standards applicants must meet, Kroger said, and the city has decided to change these types of units to a conditional use, which will make them easier to add even though they will still require Board of Zoning Appeals approval.

Dayton’s new zoning code defines accessory dwelling units as self-contained living spaces that are separate from a primary dwelling on the same lot.

Accessory dwelling units can be attached or detached from a home, but they must have a separate entrance and a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping area, the code states.

Accessory dwelling units potentially can increase affordable housing and can offer a wider range of housing options, says the American Planning Association.

These units can allow seniors to live near family as they age, and property owners can charge tenants rent to help with their own living and housing costs.

“It adds choice, opportunity, flexibility,” Kroeger said.

Accessory dwelling units typically appeal to empty-nesters, young adults who are new to the workforce and elderly and disabled residents who want to live close to family or caregivers, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s office of policy development and research.

These units are an inexpensive way to increase the supply of housing that is affordable to many low- and moderate-income residents, HUD said.

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