Thinks ADUs Are “Responsible Development”
There has been some misrepresentations lately of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), what they are and their purpose.
Presently, the Estes Valley Development Code only allows 27% of the combined residential lots in both the Town of Estes Park and the unincorporated Estes Valley to have an integrated ADU within an existing single-family dwelling. This policy is a radical departure from past zoning regulations and many property owners have been upset by the loss of their right to have an ADU, whether for private use or rental.
The Planning Commission is now re-evaluating the current ADU Code policy for several reasons: problems in code language, increasing demand for ADUs on lots not allowed the use, affordable housing issues, new building codes and recent Larimer County code changes that allow ADUs on any residential lot in the County.
The Planning Commission has been following the Estes Valley Comprehensive Plan, a guideline for Responsible Development that encourages infill housing in existing neighborhoods, that helps preserve the beauty of the remaining open spaces in the Estes Valley from further sprawl. One such infill housing project supported by the Planning Commission has been Habitat for Humanity’s latest affordable single-family housing project on Riverside Drive. The Comprehensive Plan encourages ADUs as part of the infill housing for the unique benefits they provide:
1. Private ADUs allow opportunities for year-round, part-time and retired residents by providing accommodations for elderly parents, visiting family and guests, or on-site housing for caretakers and domestic caregivers.
2. Rentable ADUs represent an affordable and long-term housing opportunity for local working residents, currently challenged by the housing shortage.
3. ADUs support local business by housing the employee base within the core commercial districts. Increased living opportunities in close proximity to various`employment sectors, is an environmentally preferred land use policy, which reduces automobile dependancy and takes full advantage of the community’s paved trails system.
4. ADUs also reduce infrastructure cost by making efficient use of existing utility services and roadways.
Our community has already been reaping these benefits from the existing and often unnoticed ADUs found in our neighborhoods. Their presence hasn’t altered the unique mountain appearance and character of the Estes Valley any more than other dwellings; some even enhance it. They are not the source of increased traffic congestion, parking, noise and rental problems. That is mainly caused by the three million tourists that yearly swarm over this community and blatantly violate short-term rental agreements. They have not harmed property values, which continue to outpace most of the nation. Nor have they overloaded the public utilities or infrastructure.
Opponents of the proposed ADU zoning code revisions would lead you to believe we need an encumbering public review process to ensure the least amount of impact in our neighborhoods, but the facts above do not support their case.
Paul F. Brown
Estes Park, CO