You are on page 1of 2

Members of the Council, thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak on the proposed ZTA.

My
name is Andy Leon Harney and I am the Village Manager of Section 3 of the Village of Chevy Chase.
This ZTA does NOT provide affordable housing . It is a dramatic reversal of the guidelines adopted by
the previous District Council and the proposed changes go well beyond what is permitted in surrounding
jurisdictions.
Section 3 is a densely populated down-county community with about 60 shared driveways and small lots
many under 7000 sq ft. We are already struggling with storm water issues due to the heavy rains in the
last year and the improvements that neighbors have made over time. The idea that a separate living unit
could be placed in the back yard of an already densely populated community makes no sense. We have
seen no data to support a demand for such units, nor does it in any way justify itself by providing
affordable housing by large numbers of prospective tenants. With estimated construction costs of $80-
$100k, it’s human nature that anyone building an independent unit will want to make their money back as
quickly as possible.
If this proposal is really about affordable housing, then why not make this rule with a proviso that all the
ADUs created will not exceed County rent levels for affordable housing per square foot? You’re not
proposing that because you know that no one would build them if that were the case. And where are
the provisions for periodic inspections as we do with apartment buildings? Or any rule that says these
units cannot be converted to short term rentals?
For those who want an elderly parent or an adult disabled child to live nearby, then yes, restore the
conditional use, but if it converts to a rental property, put a per square foot limit in the “affordable”
housing range or mandate that it cannot be used for short term rental or the license is revoked. Otherwise
this expansion of ADUs just creates another opportunity to build airbnb units that damage the fabric of a
community by constantly introducing strangers who have no vested interest in paying attention to
parking regulations, who have no allegiance to the community.
Citizens of this County spent 7 years developing the Zoning Code Rewrite. The purpose of the zoning
rewrite was to simplify the rules and thereby reduce or eliminate the need for Zoning Text Amendments.
Yet since the passage of the zoning rewrite, we have had 62 ZTAs enacted. And at least 4 of them have
addressed a gradual chipping away of single family zoning via Accessory Apartments. There are NO
objective standards proposed here by which a hearing examiner can be guided in waiving parking or unit
spacing. Calling it a “use” and not dwelling unit does not change what it is, especially when the
supporting arguments are all about “affordable housing”.
If you want to end single family zoning,--that is a larger discussion that should take place, not a ZTA
which only a handful of County residents even know about. Changing the zoning code by stealth is not
the way to go about this. You abuse the trust voters put in you if you pass this ZTA.
When you put in a subdivision, WSSC has to determine if the existing infrastructure can support it…how
would that work in older neighborhoods adding ADUs? How much more impervious surfaces are you
allowing with the relaxation of square footage to 1/2 the size of the principal house? How would fire
departments access these units? How would the schools, the County and independent municipalities plan
when you expand this use to an independent large dwelling unit? What happens to open space in our
communities? There are already over 500 ADUs in the County and more in the pipeline.
And how is this anything but the destruction of single family zoning by stealth?
I urge you to reconsider this entire proposal and consider the repercussions of the open door on lot
coverage which has serious fire safety, infrastructure, open space and storm drainage implications
County-wide.