Letter: ADU ordinance could change single-family neighborhoods



This is in follow-up to Joe Vaughn’s excellent letter to Current in Carmel (Dec. 17, online) regarding the proposed Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance now before the city council.

 Carmel homeowners: This ordinance would make it easier for your neighbor to build a detached second dwelling, up to 1,300 square feet in size, as close as 10 feet from your property line. The ADU might be for a family member, but the ordinance would not prevent it from being a long-term rental unit or an Airbnb.

 Currently, attached or detached ADUs in Carmel require a use variance approval by the full board of zoning appeals at a public hearing. The new ordinance, as originally proposed by the Dept. of Community Services, would have allowed all ADUs to be built “by right” with no approvals whatsoever.

 Fortunately, the Carmel Plan Commission has added a provision to the proposed ordinance that would at least require a scaled-back hearing to be held for a detached ADU structure, although approvals would be decided by a single BZA hearing officer.

 The new ordinance would undesirably allow an ADU that is attached to an existing home to be built “by right,” with no hearing/approval required, so nearby homeowners would have no forum in which to raise any objections in this situation.

 HOA covenants can prohibit or restrict ADUs, but many HOAs did not anticipate a need for this, and covenants can be difficult to change. Furthermore, many older neighborhoods do not even have an HOA to offer such protections.

 This ordinance appears to be yet another tactic by city officials to facilitate higher-density residential development, but now it would be added from within established single-family neighborhoods across Carmel. If you would rather not see a rental house built in your neighbor’s back yard, ask city councilors to vote against this proposed ordinance.

 Dave Fox, Carmel