Lexington is poised to test out small housing alternatives

Oct 13, 2021

Lexington took a step toward approving Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, on Tuesday. Community members have been split over the proposed housing alternatives for years.

Credit imaginelexington.com

ADUs come in different forms and go by a number of nicknames, from "secondary suites" to "granny flats." The units — which can be created out of converted parts of existing homes or built as new attachments — are popular with affordable housing advocates and aging residents who wish to stay closer to family.

But the idea has detractors, many of whom worry about their use as student housing, sudden increases in short-term rentals, neighborhood integration, and parking.

"What I think a lot of people are concerned with is our ability as a city to enforce and regulate these ADUs," Councilman James Brown said. But he plan, which calls for a city review in a year, could reassure neighborhood residents who are wary of the new additions. "If we do it in a progressive type of format, then it will give us the ability to try to work to build trust in these neighborhoods and communities where a lot of the neighbors are really concerned that misue of ADUs will negatively impact their neighborhoods."

One controversial provision ultimately left out of the proposal was language allowing for detached units, also called tiny houses.

Tuesday's unanimous Urban County Council vote in favor of the more limited ADU ordinance wasn't the last. Final approval could come in late October.