County Executive Announces Legislation to support Accessory Dwelling Units

winchesterhallFrederick County is experiencing a gradually increasing problem and challenge when it comes to affordable housing. It is not an issue that will be resolved by any one thing. There are no “silver bullets” here. Rather, any meaningful progress that is made will be through a combination of strategies and policies, and likely using a diverse range of tools.

For a while now, the issue of how to properly facilitate the development of accessory dwellings in Frederick County and the City of Frederick has been discussed and explored by the Frederick County Affordable Housing Council, county staff and some county council members.

County council member Jessica Fitzwater, who is co-sponsoring this legislative proposal, is the council’s liaison to the Affordable Housing Council, and has been an active participant.

The basic idea is simple. But those who have been engaged in the discussions or have studied the issue know that what seems easy comes with a number of questions and issues that need to be carefully considered, and important choices that have to be made, some of which are mentioned in the press release below and addressed in the initial legislative proposal.

Below is the content of the press release from the office of the county executive, and links to the video of the briefing, the upcoming council workshop agenda and the proposed legislation to be considered.


CONTACT: Robin K. Santangelo (
Public Information Officer, 301-600-2590

County Executive Jan Gardner Announces
Legislation to Streamline Construction of Accessory Dwelling Units

Proposal Relates Only to Structures Accompanying Existing Single-Family Homes

County Executive Jan Gardner today announced proposed legislation to encourage the construction of accessory dwelling units in Frederick County. Co-sponsored by County Council President Bud Otis and Council Member Jessica Fitzwater, the proposal would streamline regulations to make it easier to build what used to be called in-law suites, which are small living spaces within or attached to a home, or stand alone “tiny houses.” The legislation only addresses units that are accessories to existing single-family homes. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are defined as dwelling units that are accessory to or located on the same lot as a principal residential structure. ADUs are often targeted to seniors because they have cooking, bathroom and sleeping areas that are separate from the main dwelling.

“Accessory dwelling units are one approach to providing housing options for people in Frederick County,” said Executive Gardner. “This initiative has been a team effort and is an example of what we can accomplish when we work together for the citizens.”

A staff work group met to identify issues that the legislation should address, such as impact fees, sprinkler system regulations, water and sewer regulations, well and septic regulations, and other zoning requirements. Because smaller ADUs are more likely to be efficiencies or have only one bedroom, school impact fees would be waived for any ADU that is 800 square feet or smaller. Any unit over 800 square feet would still be required to pay a school impact fee.

Other regulations would differ based on factors such as whether the project has water and sewer service or is on well and septic, and whether the ADU will be attached to a home that was built before or after sprinklers were required. Numerous zoning regulation changes are proposed, including reducing setback and parking requirements.

The proposed legislation will be discussed by the County Council at its June 12 workshop at 4:30 p.m. A draft of the legislation is available for review on the Council agenda at


Frederick County: Rich History, Bright Future

Winchester Hall ● 12 East Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701 ● 301-600-1100 ● Fax 301-600-1050

Public Information Briefing: Accessory Dwelling Units (June 7, 2018)

Agenda for the June 12th County Council meeting.

Frederick County, Maryland
County Council Workshop
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 – 4:30 p.m.
First Floor Hearing Room – Winchester Hall
12 East Church Street, Frederick, Maryland

Copy of the legislative to be discussed at the county council workshop:
“AN ACT to: exempt accessory dwelling units equal to or less than 800 square feet in size from payment of public school development impact fees.”