The following letter was sent this week to the Lexington Fayette County Urban County Council regarding the ZOTA for allowing Accessory Dwelling Units to be constructed at residences in Fayette County. Fayette County Neighborhood Council feels that the basic and important questions we have regarding implementation of the ZOTA should be answered before the Council votes on whether to pass the ZOTA. The likely date of that expected vote is October 28, next Thursday.
It is not too late to communicate with your Councilmembers before the vote.
Here is the letter from FCNC:
October 20, 2021
Dear Council Members:
On behalf of the Fayette County Neighborhood Council (FCNC), I am
writing to ask questions that the FCNC believes should be addressed
prior to passage of the proposed ADU Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment
1. In the definition of DWELLING UNIT, ACCESSORY (ADU) on page 1 of
ZOTA 2019-5(a), Converted Detached Structures may include
“garages or other accessory structures.” Will a property owner have
the authority to expand the height or square footage of a “Converted
Detached Structure” to create an ADU? Will all permitted detached
structures be eligible for conversion to an ADU? Section 3-12(b)
Construction, states, “An ADU may be created through an alteration of
an existing structure, or conversion of an existing structure to an ADU
while simultaneously constructing a new primary dwelling unit on the
site. . . .” For example, will a homeowner be able to convert a shed
with a building permit to an ADU?
2. Council has indicated it will be reviewing the ZOTA a year after passage.
What will it be reviewing, and will Council require that staff collect and retain
information to provide for the review? Additional information might include
the ADU’s purpose, rent per month per each use, demographics of owners and
renters, a map showing all ADUs and ADU applications per Council District, and
whatever other information might be appropriate. Council review should be
annual rather than one-time because ADU development typically starts slowly
and then accelerates. Will staff have to report on currently existing ADUs
that may/may not have a building permit file? How will staff identify them?
3. 3-12)(j) requires short-term rentals to obtain a conditional use permit.
The FCNC supports this provision. However, how will the LFUCG find and
regulate short-term rentals to assure compliance?
4. 3-12(l) Alterations of Existing Structures states, “If a detached ADU is
created from an existing detached accessory structure that does not meet
one or more of the standards within Article 3-12, the structure is exempt
from the standard(s) it does not meet as per Article 3-2.” Would this exemption
allow a small structure without a building permit to become an ADU through a
significant expansion? Section 3-12(p) says that any “detached structure”
constructed before October 31 can become an ADU. For the purposes of the
ZOTA, what is a “detached structure”? A definition is necessary in the ZOTA.
Shouldn’t nearby residents receive equal consideration and only allow this
as a conditional use?
5. 3-12(m) Maximum Occupancy permits “a maximum of two (2) persons and any
children related to them or under their care . . .” to reside in an ADU. How will the
LFUCG enforce this provision? LFUCG Zoning Enforcement lacks the authority to
even enter a property and is short on staff. Current processes are inefficient and
ineffective, and the ZOTA adds more enforcement responsibility.
6. 3-12(n) Owner Occupancy, has similar enforcement issues. How will the LFUCG
successfully enforce this provision? This is a critical element in the ZOTA for
neighborhoods. What is the definition of “owner occupied” for the purposes
of the ZOTA? Will the “owner” have to live on the lot for at least 50 percent
of the year? Will the majority owner have to live on the property or will giving
5 percent of ownership to a son or daughter or friend suffice? The ZOTA
requires this definition.
FCNC appreciates that changes to the ZOTA have addressed some neighborhood
concerns. However, as currently written the ZOTA has numerous problems, and
a number of questions remain unanswered. FCNC requests that Council assist
in providing answers for these neighborhood concerns and consider necessary
changes before the ZOTA’s passage.
Walt Gaffield, President
Fayette County Neighborhood Council, Inc.
cc: FCNC Board of Directors
FCNC Electronic Mailing List