New Anne Arundel accessory dwelling unit bill sees changes to fees, owner occupancy provisions ahead of final vote

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The Anne Arundel County Council approved a second set of amendments Monday to a bill that would update laws for building accessory dwelling units.

Amendments passed would exempt homeowners from paying certain wastewater charges and specifying which impact fees would need to be paid when they seek to build accessory dwelling units, commonly referred to as ADUs. These structures are typically built on the property of a single-family home where someone can live independently of the main home.


This was the second consecutive meeting in which the council spent considerable time debating changes to the ADU laws. At its Feb. 20 meeting it considered parking and owner occupancy requirements.

Other amendments debated Monday altered requirements for when the owner needs to be on the property and how far units must be from neighboring lots.


The council attempted to strike a balance between two groups of residents who testified on the bill. Some speakers urged the council to eliminate any limitations around building the units, as they might be able to address the county’s lack of affordable housing options. They opposed any barriers that could reduce the amount of income one could make from an ADU, including waiving certain local fees and making various rental options flexible.

Others urged council members to consider the impact these units could have on neighbors.

Davidsonville resident Melissa Stanton shared her experience renting her ADU out to shorter-term tenants like Naval Academy and Maryland State House staff.

“ADUs are about options,” Stanton said. “If one of the goals is to make ADUs help affordable housing in the area, communities do that by having the local government help.”

Greater Severna Park Council representative Amy Leahy said she and her group were concerned with how the new regulations could affect existing homeowners.

“We understand the need for people to have safe and secure affordable housing, but creating an opportunity for possible abuse of those who currently live in the community is something that needs to be considered,” Leahy said.

Two amendments addressed fees ADU owners would need to pay. The first amendment, sponsored by Council member Lisa Rodvien, an Annapolis Democrat, waives capital facility connection charges for the units. These are costs a homeowner has to pay to hook up to the county’s sewer system. The amendment passed on a party-line vote, with four Democrats in favor and three Republicans opposed.

“This can be prohibitively expensive,” Rodvien said. “[The charge] can be very significant and can be a real obstacle to actually creating accessory dwelling units.”


This fee, which is about $20,000 for both water and sewer, is currently waived for religious facilities, housing for the elderly of moderate means, certain nonprofit facilities and veterans and military service organizations.

Council member Nathan Volke, a Pasadena Republican, said he wouldn’t support the amendment because those entities are not designed to profit like the ADUs are.

“The difference with these accessory dwelling units, to me, is that, especially if we’re allowing them to be some sort of profit generator, potentially as short-term rentals, I start to wonder how fair that is or how much you’re actually treating like things like when you’re giving this exemption,” Volke said.

Rodvien replied that, in her research, she’s found about 11% of ADUs are used for short-term rental. The majority are for long-term tenants like family members.

Another amendment, sponsored by Volke and passed by all council members besides Rodvien and Allison Pickard, a Glen Burnie Democrat, changed which ADU developers would need to pay impact fees, fees incurred from the impact of the development on roads, schools and public safety.

While the bill previously exempted all ADUs from these fees, Volke’s amendment will require ADUs that involve new construction to still pay them.


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An amendment sponsored by Rodvien and passed unanimously will allow homeowners to rent ADUs or homes short-term as long as the owner is living in one of them at the time.

Rodvien said the goal was to strike a balance between those who said short-term rental was important to the profitability of the ADU and those who feared short-term renters would disrupt the neighborhood.

“In my experience, the problem short-term rentals are the ones that are not owner-occupied,” Rodvien said. “You really cut down on the vast majority of the neighborhood concerns that at least I’ve encountered from my constituents as long as the property owner is somewhere on the property.”

Another amendment, sponsored by Amanda Fiedler, an Arnold Republican, and Shannon Leadbetter, a Crofton Republican, passed with support from all of the Republicans and Council chair Pete Smith, a Severn Democrat. It prohibits homeowners from building ADUs closer to an adjacent property line than the county code allows. A homeowner can apply for a variance to circumvent certain zoning regulations, but this amendment prohibits that allowance for homeowners wishing to build ADUs closer to neighboring property lines than the law permits.

While the Democrats argued there is a variance process for a reason and just because someone applies for one doesn’t mean they’ll get it, Fiedler responded that the process isn’t perfect and it’s important to protect the space between properties.

“My concern is that if someone does not have the lot size to build a new construction ADU that they would apply for a variance and be right on a property line with their neighbor,” Fiedler said. “I’m trying to prevent neighbors feuding for years.”


The bill will return to the council at its next meeting March 20. If no more amendments are passed at that meeting it can be voted on that night. The bill must be voted on by April 22.