Wake County commissioners on Monday approved an ordinance allowing the construction of additional dwellings – known as “mother-in-law” apartments or “granny flats” – as large as half the size of a lot’s main dwelling.
The ordinance sets aside a previous 750-square-foot limit. The 6-1 vote, with Commissioner Joe Bryan in opposition, means that homeowners can add either detached or attached additional residence space as long as the new construction or renovation meets setback, sewer and other requirements.
Wake residents who’d like to add on for older family members, as well as contractors who say they get increasing requests for such additions, spoke in support of the ordinance.
“We can design something in 500 square feet, but it’s not going to work worth 2 cents,” said builder-contractor Barry Corbett.
“We don’t want McMansions. But the 50 percent rule will allow large enough additions that will let Mom and Dad go as they please.”
County resident Breck Barker said during a public hearing that his research showed that an addition for a couple would require 1,153 square feet to meet “aging-in-place” and Americans with Disabilities guidelines.
“It seems to me it would be a mistake not to allow this,” said board member Betty Lou Ward.
Bryan, representing Knightdale, said the new guidelines could allow for excessive construction in residential neighborhoods where people moved expecting single-family dwellings.
“We are making a quantum change,” Bryan said, noting that the change could put two “nice-sized houses” on a single-family lot.
No surrounding municipalities or county allows as large an addition as the new ordinance does, Bryan said.
Proponents noted the need for such ancillary dwellings not just for older relatives, but also for people with disabilities caused by military service or other factors. The dwellings can contain a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping area.
In other action, the Board of Commissioners on Monday:
• Announced the selection of two consulting firms to collect information and develop next steps on transit for the Board of Commissioners and other partners. The companies are Triangle-based Kimley-Horn and Associates and Oregon-based Jarrett Walker and Associates.
Contract negotiations are underway with both companies.
“By the time we hit March 15, in the spring, we’ll some good information for your continued discussion,” said County Manager Jim Hartmann.
• Approved incentives potentially worth about $1 million to the international pharmaceutical company Xellia, based on the company’s fulfillment of requirements including a net investment of $100 million, creation of 50 jobs paying 120 percent of the county average and payment of property taxes. The city of Raleigh is paying an equivalent amount.
• Approved spending $1.5 million for a new scoreboard for Five County Stadium.
• Awarded a $6,288,119 contract for construction of the Northeast Regional Library in Wakefield to J.M. Thompson Co. of Raleigh.