Ogden believes 'granny flats' will improve central city

Friday , March 28, 2014 - 1:00 PM

Cathy McKitrick, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — City council action has paved the way for homeowners within a seven-block area in east-central Ogden to add mother-in-law apartments to their properties.

City planners view these accessory dwelling units (ADUs), also referred to as “granny flats,” as tools that can help stabilize neighborhoods, encourage owner occupancy and build community pride, said Ogden Planning Manager Greg Montgomery.

In December, Shalae Larsen petitioned the city to allow her and her husband to add an apartment over their new garage built next to the 124-year-old home they purchased in 2002 near Jefferson Avenue and 24th Street.

“In general, ADUs have a number of really positive benefits to a community,” Larsen said, “including allowing you to increase density in a safe way because you have owner occupancy.”

However, Larsen also likes the economic and social diversity that these extra living units can provide. For example, as families age, needs change — children grow up and move out, and aging parents might move in.

“In our neighborhood, there are many older historic homes that require a lot of maintenance,” Larsen said, noting that those costs multiply quickly. “So for homeowners such as myself, it would be a potential additional stream of income to help offset the costs of owning these big Victorian mansions.”

The Ogden Planning Commission not only unanimously recommended approval of applying the ADU overlay zone to the Larsens’ block, but also urged extending it to include seven blocks between 22nd and 24th streets and Adams and Quincy avenues.

Councilman Doug Stephens was absent, but the remaining six members last Tuesday unanimously approved the ADU overlay in that neighborhood.

The block south of 22nd Street and west of Quincy Avenue is excluded.

“Not everyone needs a huge house, but they may like these old, huge houses,” said Councilwoman Amy Wicks.

“This gives them a chance to make it work for them, and it also makes it so the housing works across the lifespan of the family.”

According to planning documents, the use flows in line with the East Central Community Plan. The seven-block neighborhood includes 239 residential properties, of which nearly 70 percent could be eligible for an ADU.

However, some parcels might face barriers. City guidelines require that the property owner use the home as a primary residence, and the ADU must meet certain square-footage requirements and be occupied by no more than two adults with or without minor children, Montgomery said.

In addition, off-street parking must be provided in a way that maintains the single-family look of the home, and if the extra unit is in the basement, bedrooms must qualify as egress windows that would be big enough for someone to exit if necessary.

“Most of us know people and neighbors who are doing it already,” Montgomery said. “It makes sense in terms of civility and owner occupancy to allow this type of option.”

In the future, council members could extend the ADU overlay option throughout the city.

“I think it makes a lot of sense,” said Council Chairman Richard Hyer.

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or cmckitrick@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.

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