New Chattanooga ADU bill in home stretch

Mayor Kelly in support of ordinance; City Council to hear final reading

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — Chattanooga is taking another step toward more affordable housing in Mayor Tim Kelly’s One Chattanooga Plan.

This newest effort can, quite literally, begin right in your backyard.

Accessory Dwelling Units, or A-D-Us for short, go by many names — in-law suites, carriage houses, granny flats, etc.

Chattanooga’s Chris Anderson says that soon, whatever residents want to call them, they’ll be able to build them.

Chattanooga’s City Council recently unanimously voted in favor of an ordinance that would allow ADUs “to be constructed on every residential lot” in the city.

Anderson says the decision to do so or not belongs entirely to homeowners.

“If you have, say, a woman who is retired in Hixson who wants to construct an apartment on top of her garage and rent that out to a person so she can help pay her mortgage, that is helping two people afford a home — one person living in the apartment and one living in the house,” Anderson said.

The city says the construction of new ADUs “will help address the City’s current deficit of more than 5,000 housing units.”

As for how they’re designed, that’s for homeowners to decide.

“It could be a garage apartment, a basement apartment, it can be attached to the house, it can be detached,” Anderson said. “The regulations in Chattanooga now will be no more than 700 square feet in total size. So they really are designed to be accessory units and not second houses.”

Mayor Tim Kelly says the city has reached a “critical point” where many are concerned they may eventually be “priced out” of living in Chattanooga.

But he believes this new bill can alter concerns.

Kelly says, quote, “This ordinance offers an immediate opportunity for residents to increase their property values and the City’s affordable housing supply, all while maintaining the character of our neighborhoods.”

Anderson agreed with the Mayor’s optimism, saying residents have plenty to be excited about.

“This is a new housing choice that wasn’t available to Chattanoogans unless they lived near downtown,” Anderson said. “Now it’s available city-wide. It’s going to be a tool that helps homeowners afford to stay in their homes, it’s going to be a tool that helps renters find affordable places to rent long-term. It’s really great for everyone.”

City Council Chairman Darrin Ledford says that this ordinance isn’t quite in the books just yet, as the council needs to hear on the final reading one more time.

Anderson believes it will be passed.

Some restrictions would include no units in front yard setbacks and only one ADU per single-family dwelling.

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