CB to discuss accessory structure moratorium

Goal to get more ADUs with long-term renters

[ By Mark Reaman ]

The Crested Butte town council will consider a 12-month moratorium on any new heated or plumbed accessory buildings not used for long-term rentals at the September 7 meeting. Mayor Jim Schmidt and councilmember Mallika Magner had asked the staff to consider ways to require or entice people building in town to include a deed-restricted accessory dwelling unit (ADU) rental as part of new single-family homes.

Community development director Troy Russ said that the town staff was maxed out and had no time to delve into such a complicated and nuanced issue. In a memo to the council, he suggested a moratorium on accepting applications for all heated accessory structures in town for a year. He noted that the Community Compass comprehensive planning exercise was slated to begin soon and that would take up a lot of staff time. “We are at capacity and the staff can’t take on a complex issue that will take a lot of public outreach without giving something else up,” he said.

Town manager Dara MacDonald agreed that tackling the issue would take some time. “We have seen a drop-off in the number of ADUs being applied for and being built in town,” she said. “But there is a lot to consider and think through with this idea.”

Russ explained that if the moratorium is approved, no one would be allowed to build a heated accessory structure for 12 months as the town completes its long-range comprehensive plan (Community Compass) and updates its development regulations. A heated accessory structure is a structure that does not have a bath/shower; a 220 electrical outlet; or bedroom as defined by a room with a door, closet and egress window. While no heated buildings such as garages and storage buildings could be constructed under the moratorium, accessory dwelling units (ADU) otherwise know as a granny flat or mother-in-law unit, would continue to be allowed to be constructed. It is important to note, he explained, that all accessory units that have a bath/shower, 220 electrical outlet, and a bedroom, as defined above, would be required to be deed restricted for a long-term rental.

“A year seems like a very long time for a moratorium. My hope for the ordinance was to put more ‘carrots’ and incentives for ADUs,” said Schmidt. “Perhaps a bonus in building height or Floor Area Ratio to get an ADU for long-term rentals.”

“I’m surprised this would take a year for the staff,” said Magner. “I’m not sure why there would be such an extensive public outreach beyond the public hearings. The longer we wait the less ADUs we will have. I hope it doesn’t take a year.”

Russ made it clear that staff was recommending a moratorium instead of rushing regulatory changes without thoughtful analysis and meaningful community engagement.

“There are a lot of potential unintended consequences,” said Russ. “I could see people coming in with plans for an attached garage instead of an accessory building for a garage. That could change the character of a neighborhood.”

Russ said the town is receiving four to six building applications a month. He told the council that while the idea is well intended, there were a lot of unknowns. He said the staff would return with a more detailed pros and cons assessment of issuing the moratorium and a stronger staff recommendation at the public hearing scheduled for the next meeting.

Magner emphasized the need for ADUs in town. “It is so important to have ADUs be part of our affordable housing,” she said. “And I would be surprised if people attached a garage to the primary house because it would take away square footage from their living area.”
All development in Crested Butte is required to build, or financially contribute to affordable housing. Russ said each development application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If a developer wishes to build a heated accessory structure and not an ADU, they are required to pay the town a payment in lieu of building an ADU. The fee is called a resident occupied affordable housing (ROAH) fee.
The moratorium idea was set for a public hearing to take place at the September 7 council meeting.

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