The Boulder County Planning Commission approved amendments to the unincorporated Boulder County Land Use Code on Wednesday regarding accessory dwelling units, often called ADUs, during its monthly meeting.
The approval advances a change to the Land Use Code that would allow the construction of an ADU to serve as interim housing on the existing property of residents who intend to rebuild their home lost in the Marshall Fire.
An initiative to make amendments to the code came back in May as part of a broader effort to provide disaster relief housing for people who lost their homes in the December fires.
The Planning Commission amendments were sent back to the Boulder County Commissioners with additional comments and recommendations after several hours listening to public comments and in open discussion.
The initial language of the amendment specified the ADU to be no larger than 700 square feet. Many of the comments, including letters to the commission, rejected the proposed square footage.
James and Janet Andrews are exploring an ADU to age in place after losing their home adjacent to their daughter’s property, and expressed concern that the proposed size limitation did not meet the broader county policies on housing that recognize a connection between “safe affordable housing and physical and mental health.”
“In fact the proposed 700 square foot land use code limit regarding the ADUs does not meet the above criteria for physical and mental health well-being,” Janet Andrews said. “A minimum of 1,000 square feet would be comparable to a two bedroom apartment, which is preferable.”
Some residents sought limitations beyond 1,000 square feet.
Tom Bergoff, a Spanish Hills resident, provided some collective comments and survey results from other fire victims, sharing that many residents feel the limitations of the amendment were “artificial” and unrealistic.
The Planning Commission open discussion after public comment concluded with recommendations that included further research and guidance from the Community Planning & Permitting department to increase the square footage of the ADUs, explore easement issues and other concerns.
The Planning Commission recommendations on the Land Use Code amendment will be in front of the Boulder County Commissioners again on Aug. 4.