By Stefanie Donahue
After receiving a mixed reaction from the public, Blaine City Council approved an amendment that will permit the use and development of independent living spaces on single-family properties in select locations throughout the city.
The 5 to 1 vote, struck during a Monday evening council meeting on August 8, follows a June 23 hearing, when Blaine residents sounded off to planning commissioners about the proposed amendment. Some cautioned commissioners about potential increases in traffic congestion and changes to the character of Blaine’s neighborhoods; others embraced the concept and considered it a positive opportunity to house older family members or children, while still providing a sense of independence.
Starting this week, residents of low-density neighborhoods, including areas north of H Street, parts of land east of Peace Portal Drive and Bell Road in the Montfort Park neighborhood and land north of Lincoln Park, will be able to apply for a permit to build attached or detached housing units – equipped with a kitchen, bathroom and living space – on the premises of their own single-unit property.
Often called in-law suites or granny flats, secondary housing units are not new for Blaine.
In 2011, the city approved the development of accessory dwelling units for single family one, single family two and other permitted residential zones in Blaine.
In August 2015, councilmembers proposed the newly passed amendment with the intention of increasing the variety of type and price of housing to provide an affordable alternative to the working and aging community and to meet the demands of a growing population.
All accessory dwelling units, including those approved for additional zones in Blaine at the Monday, August 8 council meeting, must adhere to existing restrictions already imposed by the city and potential restrictions imposed by homeowners associations.
By law, accessory dwelling units cannot be sold separately or converted into a condominium and the owner of the property is required to live on the premises. Additionally, accessory dwelling units built within the newly permitted zones are considered conditional use and require a building permit review by the planning commission before a public hearing is held.