A recently passed Metro ordinance that broadens the scope of the city’s accessory dwellings types could yield more environmentally friendly, space conserving and building-dense settings within Nashville’s historic residential districts, supporters of the bill said.
“It’s a way of giving people an option if they want more space,” said Kristine LaLonde, the District 18 Metro councilwoman who sponsored the bill allowing detached buildings with fully functional residential dwellings.
“It’s another tool to expand space without it being intrusive to neighbors,” she added.
Tim Walker, executive director of the Metro Historical Commission, said accessory dwellings of this type are becoming more common nationwide. LaLonde worked closely with the MHC in crafting her legislation.
“It is a way to get the density you are already approved for,” he said. “[The ordinance] is environmentally friendly, it protects open space and it allows [construction] to be done on an alley.”
LaLonde’s legislation passed 38-0 on third reading on May 17. The focus is on the city’s historic zoning overlay districts. Prior to its passage, a resident of such a district could, for example, construct a detached building, often a garage, but could have in the space (above it in the case of a garage) a half bath and no kitchen.
The new bill, which had multiple co-sponsors, allows for a full bath and full kitchen, but offers fairly strict requirements related to square footage, height, materials/design style and proximity to the dominant structure on the property. Though the principal structure and the detached accessory unit may have separate utility connections, they must be owned by the same person.
LaLonde said the bill requires an accessory dwelling be more restrictive in construction and design than, for example, making an addition to a house.
Walker said it’s too soon to gauge the impact of the bill.
“We really haven’t [gotten a feel for which neighborhoods will do this first],” Walker said. “We don’t have a big rush but we’ve been trying to get the news out. I don’t anticipate an onslaught of these, but I think they’ll be done so well that they will be well received.”
Michael Ward, a partner with Allard Ward Architects, said the firm Thursday submitted a request for a house and accessory dwelling, to be built on spec, in Belmont-Hillsboro.
“It has been interesting to try to work with these new parameters,” Ward said.
Ward said Allard Ward, a firm known for designing detached garages, should see in increase in interest from homeowners who want to have accessory dwellings on their properties.
Walker said homeowners who already own a duplex will not be allowed to add an accessory dwelling of this type.
“You can’t just fill up your yard with out-buildings,” he said.