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Castle Rock gives green light to accessory dwelling units

Council OKs new construction and conversion of basements, garages


There's good news for fans of the tiny house movement living in Castle Rock. Or, anyone looking to turn that old garage into a living space.

Town council in January approved an ordinance that will allow one “accessory dwelling unit” to a residential lot, with a footprint of up to 800 square feet on its ground level.

Accessory dwelling units are secondary, small dwellings on the same grounds as a single-family home often referred to as a “nanny unit” or “mother-in-law unit.” That could include new construction, like building a tiny house in the back yard, or converting structures like a garage or basement into rentable living quarters.

“Many of them will be placed above a garage, most of them will be placed in a basement,” said the town's director of development Bill Detweiler during the Jan. 16 council meeting.

In the Dec. 5 town council meeting, where council approved the first reading of the new ordinance, Detweiler said staff expected most accessory dwellings would be placed in existing structures because many of the town's residential areas are planned communities, like The Meadows, that are “not necessarily set up for detached units.”

Any accessory dwellings, detached structures or not, would still need to comply with zoning regulations such as building height restrictions, and rules set by homeowners' associations, which could ban them altogether.

New construction would need to undergo special review by the planning commission and ultimately come before the town council.

The ordinance also stipulates the accessory dwelling and the primary residence can't be rented to two different people — the property owner must live in one and rent the other, or, rent the entire lot to one individual.

That requirement was subject to brief debate on council, with Councilmember Jason Bower at first calling it an “overreach” of property rights in the Dec. 5 meeting. Councilmember George Teal, however, said it would keep the ordinance in line with the town's “family-oriented” lifestyle.

The ordinance clarifies other rules and regulations for installing an accessory dwelling, such as that the unit should fit the look and feel of its neighborhood, and the number of pets allowed applies to the entire lot, not each residence on the property. RVs and campers do not qualify as accessory dwellings.

Detweiler said town staff and council began researching the issue after residents, many from the historic Craig and Gould neighborhood, asked about changing town code to allow accessory dwellings.

Craig and Gould resident Lucia McConnell was excited by council's decision. McConnell's historic home comes with a garden shed original to the property and a garage she uses as a workspace. She'll consider converting the garage into an accessory dwelling, she said. She also believes the new town rules will help fill a gap in the housing market by offering affordable housing options to students, young couples or other relatives of property owners.

“I think,” she said, “there's a real market for it.”


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