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Bluffton council considers accessory dwelling unit legislation

By Paula Scott

Is “accessory dwelling unit” (ADU) in your vocabulary? Also known as granny flats, ADUs are stand-alone dwellings located on the same lot as a single family home. The Bluffton council’s Ordinance Committee is drafting a proposed ordinance to make ADUs a recognized type of housing with local oversight.

Housing shortages are creating new interest in ADUs in Ohio and across the country. New ADU legislation has been reported in Cincinnati, considered to be the first Ohio city to legalize granny flats. 

At the October 9 Bluffton council meeting, committee member Joe Sehlhorst presented a report from the Ordinance committee saying that they were looking for council and public feedback. He noted that the current document created by the committee is a rough draft and that “nothing is set.” 

There are currently some accessory dwelling units in Bluffton. The creation of legislation would give the village guidelines for future accessory dwelling construction. The legislation draft also proposes that ADUs be registered with the village.

The attached draft defines an ADU and notes the difference between this dwelling and a duplex. Elements under consideration are number of ADUs per lot, parking requirements, property owner place of residence, type of structure, minimum lot size, zoning districts where allowed, size in square feet and percentage of rear yard, setbacks and registration with the village.

Sehlhorst noted that this is an opportunity for housing agreements of 30 days or more, not for Airbnb’s.