Portland’s Planning Commission examined a proposed change in the city’s zoning ordinances regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) at its Nov. 10 meeting.

The commission voted unanimously to reject the proposal, although it will move forward to the city council at its next meeting, which is currently scheduled for Monday, Dec. 7.

The commission had sent the ordinance to the board of aldermen after their August meeting with a recommendation that it be rejected. Instead, the city council opted to send it back to the planning commission for clarification of some points.

“It’s the same ordinance as last time with a couple of additions that are intended to address some of the things that came up last time,” said interim city planner Kealan Millies-Lucke.

The ordinance would only allow ADUs — which are additional residential buildings that occupy the same lot as a primary residence — on lots with an existing single-family dwelling unit and that the minimum lot size must meet or exceed 1.5 times the minimum required lot size for that zoning district.

Additionally, one unit on a property would have to be the permanent residence of the property owner, who would be required to attest to that fact with the site plan. If a property were to be subdivided, an ADU would have to remain on the same lot as the main building.

Garage apartments would be required to meet all requirements, such as setbacks and design standards, in order to qualify as an approved ADU under the proposal. Manufactured homes, recreational vehicles or travel trailers could not be used as an ADU under the proposed ordinance.

“The council voted to send it back with a tie vote that was broken by the mayor,” said alderman Mike Hall. “I can’t see what’s driving this, and I’ve yet to hear this.

“My feeling is pretty strong against this … it’s an insult to have us waste all this time trying to get ordinances and govern how a town is going to grow, how houses are going to be built, to throw that away so someone can put whatever in their backyard.”

Newly-elected alderman Brian Woodall asked if ADUs would be connected to current water/sewer taps or be required to get new taps. City engineer Cindy Wheeler answered that she felt the intention was to be connected to current taps.

“If this is supposed to be for a family member, grandmother or mother-in-law, I don’t know that I would put it on a separate meter,” Wheeler said.

The Planning Commission also gave its approval to a proposed change in zoning ordinances to amend the definition of a semi-detached dwelling. They would be defined as a “building containing not more than one dwelling unit, attached at a side to not more than one other building containing not more than one dwelling unit by a party wall.”

The planning commission also gave final plat approval for the Ferrell Acres proposed subdivision on Tom Ferrell Road. The subdivision would have eight lots on roughly 7.87 acres.

Also approved was a plan of services and annexation of property on Briley Lane and rezoning from county residential to RS-40 (low-density residential). The annexation would allow the property owner to receive city services. Similar approvals were granted for property on Gateview Drive.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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