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November 24, 2021



  • Statewide housing shortage prompts Levan Town to adopt ordinances dealing with accessory dwellings

By Rebecca Dopp
TN Correspondent

Two interested residents came to a public hearing at Levan Town Hall on November 10 to hear about two proposed ordinances dealing with multi-family dwelling units and accessory dwelling units.

“Would you like to comment on that ordinance?” Mayor Corey Christensen asked Alan and Susan Kendall.

“We just want to know what it is,” said A. Kendall.

Ray Evans, council member, explained that the state legislature passed a new law this past year that throughout the state cities and towns could allow accessory dwellings because of the housing shortage.

“We have to make our ordinances match the state mandates,” Evans said.

Heather Poulsen, deputy town clerk, said that internal accessory dwellings, or mother-in-law apartments inside a primary dwelling, have to be allowed anywhere in the state, except towns could deem a certain percentage of their municipality where it would not be allowed.

In the ordinance, “ADUs incorporated within a single-family residence shall be a permitted use on single family home lots in primarily residential zones that require half acre minimum lot sizes or greater. They shall not be permitted on any lot smaller than one half acre. State code allows for exclusion of up to 25% of the total residential area from the IADU requirements which these zones are under. In no case shall an ADU be permitted in a townhome, a multi-family PUD or other attached unit type, or on any lot that cannot satisfy parking, setback or lot coverage requirements.”

“Anything less than 1/2 acre does not allow for septic room,” she said.

The ordinance also allows for external accessory dwellings like a mother-in-law apartment behind the main house.

Stipulations surrounding these are that you have to show that you can hook into the existing septic tank or another tank can be added without encroaching on another’s property and must meet code.

The ordinance was written specifically for the needs of Levan Town, Poulsen said.

The purpose of these ordinances is to show that Levan Town recognizes that these types of dwelling units in single-family residential zones can be an important tool in the overall housing plan of the town.

They allow for property owners to provide social or personal support for family members where independent living is desirable; provide affordable housing opportunities; make housing units available to moderate income people who might otherwise have difficulty finding housing; provide opportunities for additional income to offset rising housing costs; develop housing units in single-family neighborhoods that are appropriate for people at a variety of stages in the life cycle; preserve the character of single-family neighborhoods by providing standards governing development of accessory dwelling units; and ensure that accessory dwelling units are properly regulated by requiring property owners to obtain a building permit for an ADU prior to building and renting the ADU.

Multi-family use of ADUs are prohibited. They cannot be sold or subdivided separately from the single-family residence. Short-term rental use, under 30 days, is also prohibited. Using a trailer or motor home as an accessory dwelling is also prohibited.

Applicants for ADUs shall provide an affidavit stating that the owner of the property will live in either the primary or ADU as their permanent residence.

ADUs must meet certain design standards including: an approved building permit, safety codes must be met, health codes must be met, a separate address must be provided, outside appearance must look like a single-family residence, and owner must show documentation from the health department approving the septic system.

Only one external and one internal ADU is allowed per lot.

ADUs must meet existing building and setback standards.

One on-site parking space must be available for an ADU. The property owner has to show that adequate parking is available.

The council also addressed the multi-family dwelling unit ordinance which covers duplexes, four-plexus, townhomes, and condos.

“We don’t currently have an ordinance,” said Taryn Brooks, council member.

The policy of the town, in the ordinance, says, A. “Permit development to the degree that it can be served by the Town’s resources without impairing them or existing residents; B. No townhomes or condominiums will be allowed; C. No units larger than a four-flex will be allowed; and D. The proportion of multi-family housing allowed will not exceed 3% of the Town’s total dwelling units.”

“We can have about 12 dwelling units,” said Brooks. “There’s already a duplex in town.”

Multi-family units will be allowed in single-family residential areas.

Duplexes will be allowed on 1/2 acre lots while four-plexus will be allowed on 1 acre lots.

Christensen said that wording was changed defining what duplexes, four-plexus and townhomes were, and they struck wording for part D in the policy that read after dwelling unit, “unless otherwise recommended by the planning commission and approved by the town council.”

“We just left it ‘...will not exceed 3% of the Town’s total dwelling units’,” he said. “We felt that it left a loophole to get it approved by the planning commission and approved by the town council. If they want to change it, they can change the ordinance.”

He said it took out the “good ol’ boy network.”

The Kendalls said they appreciated the information and wanted to know how they could obtain the information prior to a meeting. Notice of the public hearings is posted on the town’s website, in the Times-News, and on the bulletin board at the town hall.

In the regular meeting, the council approved the two ordinances. Bruce Rowley, council member, was absent for the vote.