They are called Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs for short, and it was this subject that consumed the best part of a two-hour Marysville City Council meeting Monday.
ADUs are just as described, additional housing units – which can be either attached or detached from a single-family home – inside the city limits. While there are a number of ADUs in use in the city right now, the Marysville City Council is seeking to codify their existence. New ADUs will have to meet certain standards to include matching architectural styles, living space minimums and maximums, height requirements and so on. As of now, the City of Marysville has no standard code for the use of ADUs and two ordinances that were before Council Monday for second readings and public hearings would regulate their construction and use. ADUs that are already in use will be grandfathered in; the legislation will mostly affect only new construction.
After the measure was first introduced to the Marysville City Council at its last regular meeting in December, a number of questions were raised, again concerning the architectural styles, minimum space requirements and zoning changes which would codify their use. The ordinances would not allow for a recreational vehicle, for instance, to be used as an ADU, but would allow a garage conversion into living space or an addition – again either attached or detached to the original structure – on a single-family lot. Often called “In-Law” homes or “Grandma” homes, these small units are often used for just that, a place for elderly relatives to live with their families, yet retain a certain amount of independence as the ADUs have their own kitchenettes and water/sewer lines.
Several members of the public addressed – both for and against – the codification of the ADUs at Monday’s meeting. As many sections of the city have Homeowners Associations, where ADUs are not permitted under the HOA’s rules, Donald Boerger, who represents the city’s 4th Ward, noted that the 4th Ward would most likely be the areas that ADUs are to be utilized and expressed his dissatisfaction for the measures, fearing that an expansion of ADUs would harm the historical and architectural significance of his ward, leading to a spike in rental units, which he said are often neglected and in disrepair, which in turn leads to falling property values where the ADUs are to be located.
But the real debate of the subject Monday concerned matters of semantics and governmental intervention. That ADUs exist and will likely be codified is a matter of fact, it’s the manner on how future ADUs will be regulated that is at the heart of this ongoing debate.
A number of changes were made to the original ordinances that were given during their first readings at the last Marysville City Council meeting which include the size limits as noted above (ADUs may not be larger than the existing structure in term of square footage, nor may they be taller than the existing structure or over 30 feet in height), architectural integrity by using with the same materials, colors and styles of the existing building, and paved or concrete driveways. These updates were welcomed as a whole, but the bone of contention remains as it has been since the ordinances introduction: Which city board or commission will have the final say on the matter?
This is the very heart of the matter, deciding whether or not the ADUs should be considered incidental use or conditional use and whether or not both the Planning Commission and the Design Review Board will have a say in the matter as applications for ADUs are made. There are those who argued that an application and approval by the DRB should be enough, while others insist that ADU applications must go before both the DRB and the Planning Commission and receive approval from both.
Again, it appears likely that the Marysville City Council will eventually recognize and codify the use of ADUs in the city – numerous cities in Ohio and throughout the country have already done so – with the added stipulations, but how the city plans to advance the matter remains up in the air. Both ordinances dealing with the ADUs will be up for a third reading and final vote at the next Marysville City Council meeting.
In other action, the Marysville City Council passed a resolution allowing the city manager to apply for transportation alternative funds from the Ohio Department of Transportation for the State Route 31 widening project. The project is expected to be started in 2024 and will add turn lanes, sidewalks and traffic lights on Maple St/SR 31 from Elwood Ave to the U.S. Route 33 interchange. The city already has $2,000,000 earmarked in the budget for the project and will be asking the state to kick in a similar amount for its completion. President of Council Henk Berbee looks forward to the project, noting that the Maple St./Elwood Ave. intersection has been a “nightmare” for years and estimated that by the time ground is broken on the project, costs are expected to be north of $4.5M.
Also passed on the third reading and final vote was an ordinance amending the city code in regard to connection of city utilities to properties that border the city limits. The measure passed without a dissenting vote.
Prior to the council meeting, the Public Safety/Service Committee had its monthly meeting where City Engineer Kyle Hoyng outlined the acceptance of public dedicated infrastructure which includes Chestnut Crossing Phase 1 (street/water/storm/sanitary), Warner Rd (water & sanitary only), Village of Timberlakes Phase 5 Section 1 (water & sanitary only), Village Neighborhood 3 (water only), Residence at Bethel Woods (water & sanitary only), Eversole Run Neighborhood 2 (sanitary only), Marysville Flats (water only),Woodside Phase 1 (water/storm/sanitary) and Keystone Crossing Section 3 (street/water/storm/sanitary). No official action was taken by the PSSC on Mr. Hoyng’s report Monday.
The Marysville City Council is scheduled to meet again Monday, January 23 at 7 p.m.