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County May Soon Allow `Accessory Dwelling Units'

Determination of non-significance issued.

By JESSE BURKHARDT

The Enterprise

The Klickitat County Planning Department is proposing to amend its zoning ordinances in order to allow "second attached or detached dwellings as accessory dwelling units (ADUs)" in zoning districts that now limit dwellings to one per lot.

"With approval of the proposal, we anticipate individual landowners with specific zoning in areas of the county may submit applications to establish accessory dwellings, which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for consistency with adopted standards and requirements," explained Klickitat County Planning Director Curt Dreyer in a Dec. 6 memorandum.

The ADUs would be allowed, after a conditional use permit process, in areas currently zoned for forest resource, open space, extensive agriculture, general rural, suburban residential, rural residential, rural district, and single-family residential.

ADUs would not be allowed in areas of the county within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Dreyer pointed out that there are multiple reasons to allow the ADUs.

"The purposes of the adornments include, but are not limited to, providing opportunities for elderly landowners to have a caretaker live on the same premises as their home; for landowners to care for elderly on their property in a separate dwelling unit; to allow land owners to provide separate/affordable housing for adult children who may not be financially able to purchase other properties/homes in the area; to provide a `mother-in-law apartment' or guest house/cottage; to accommodate a growing trend of adult family members who live in a communal situation; and to provide opportunity for landowners to earn rental income to offset living expenses and/or house payments," Dreyer explained.

Klickitat County Commissioner David Sauter said the concept was something the commissioners have wanted to take a look at for a while.

"We asked Curt (Dreyer) to look into several things languishing out there," Sauter said. "This issue came up before, and there was a lot of discussion on it. We think there is some merit to the idea."

Sauter said the zoning amendment proposal has not yet been placed on the County Commissioners' schedule.

"There will be hearings some time after the first of the year," Sauter said, adding that he wants a meeting on the plan in White Salmon.

"At some point, there would have to be a public meeting on this because it would be a change to the zoning process. And for big changes like this, we should have a hearing in the west end of the county as well as in Goldendale. So at least one meeting in White Salmon," Sauter said.

According to Sauter, the proposal has been altered from an earlier version.

"It has been modified," he said. "The ADUs would not be allowed outright. There would be a conditional use process for every one, so neighbors would have input."

Dreyer explained that neighbors with any concerns about adding to the number of dwellings on a specific property could bring those concerns up in the conditional use permit process.

"The conditional use permit process will be used to review ADU proposals," Dreyer noted. "The process will require notice to landowners within 300 feet and a public hearing during which they may express concerns for parking, traffic congestion, lighting, overcrowding, etc. The hearing body may then address those concerns via conditions of approval."

The hearing body would be the Board of Adjustment. Appeals of the board's decisions would go to Superior Court.

Sauter said that at this point, the commissioners simply want to review the case for and against zoning for ADUs.

"We're just going to take a look at it," he said. "There is a need out there, and we want this (ADUs) to be possible, so how do we manage it -- not necessarily make it easy, but meet the need some way."

The Planning Department has issued a "determination of non-significance" (DNS) for the proposed zoning change to allow ADUs. Written comments on the DNS can be submitted to the Klickitat County Planning Department until Dec. 27.

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