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Cornelius News

Town adopts new Accessory Dwelling Unit regulations

Photo by Jason Benavides

Jan. 31. By Dave Vieser. The Cornelius Town Board has adopted new regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) which will limit the number of such units permitted here in the future, thereby better controlling density.  However the new regulations will not have any effect on previous Airbnb or similar short-term rentals.

Why the change

ADU’s, where permitted, provide residents with an extra source of income, and can be useful in keeping families together. However, the existing town regulations did not place a limit on how many ADUs can be located on a specific parcel, and in some cases the required density has been overwhelmed by too many ADUs. The new regulations establish a numerical limit on ADUs as well as more clearly defining what an ADU is. In neighborhoods like The Peninsula, down Bethel Church and Torrence Chapel, they’re not permitted.

The  newly adopted regulations define ADU as a dwelling unit on a permanent foundation containing areas for sleeping, cooking, and sanitation, separate from and incidental to the principal structure.

Changes in regulations

Previously the town land code put no limit on the number of units, as long as they did not exceed 50% of the square footage of the principal building. “In some instances this allowed more density than intended which burdened our infrastructure and schools” said Deputy Town Manager Wayne Herron. “We had received complaints from all corners of the town, where numerous ADU and short-term rental units have been established.

The purpose of the new regulations is to first clearly define what an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is and then limit the number of such units.”

The new regulations limit the number of ADUs to one, not to exceed 50 percent of the total property footage, and prohibit the use of travel trailers, campers, recreational vehicles or tractor trailers. Detached ADUs must be located in the rear yard, and must comply with all setback requirements. ADUs can also be located within a principal structure, such as a basement apartment, or detached garage.

What about existing ADU’s?

If the unit existed previously there is no impact from these new regulations. They will only apply to new units going forward from the date of the laws’ adoption, which was Jan. 17, 2023. Likewise, Airbnbs and other similar uses are permitted in various locations. They were allowed prior to adoption of the new regulations and will still be allowed now in the same locations.

How does this affect HOAs?

The Town is not allowed to recognize any HOA rules, so the Town rules apply uniformly for all neighborhoods.

Complete copies of the new regulations, as well as a map outlining areas in town where transient/short term rentals are permitted, may be obtained on the town website: www.cornelius.org.