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Provo Municipal Council continues discussion on ADU zoning

By Genelle Pugmire - | Nov 17, 2021

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

Cars line East 1320 South on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, in Provo.

When members of the Provo Municipal Council joined for a lengthy work session Tuesday, they were anticipating a deep dive into the ongoing accessory dwelling unit debacle.

Instead, they got more than an hour of how the city is anticipating enforcing the new codes that will eventually be put into place because of the ADUs.

Scott Johnson, Provo’s new zoning administrator, presented a thorough outline of how code enforcement would be handled from the first application to the final inspection.

It is not a question as to whether this will happen, it will because of the state legislature and HB 82 that requires cities to provide zoning for, and expect more, accessory dwelling units to help with the affordable housing and housing that is affordable crisis.

At the end of the day, when homeowners complete all the forms and requirements they will sign a final document that, among other things, will allow city staff to have noticed inspections of the properties — most likely every three years.

“When asked if we have a proactive or reactive enforcement, we do both,” Johnson said.

As for complaints being addressed in a timely manner, Johnson said he is looking on improving this within the department.

The COVID-19 pandemic, loss of employees and other issues have slowed down processes. Johnson came on board in July and has since built his staff back up to pre-COVID levels, but training in still ongoing.

There have been concerns about short-term rentals showing up as ADUs, but Johnson notes that will be one of their top priorities and shouldn’t be too hard to solve through documentation and inspection.

“Short term rentals are not allowed in residential zones and ADUs are only allowed in residential zones,” Johnson added.

Johnson believes there will be an increase in applications for ADUs and says he is confident he has the staffing — five code enforcers — to take care of the concerns.

While the council spent time sharing concerns and the history of code enforcement, others like Councilman David Shipley were concerned they didn’t discuss more finite issues like where ADUs will be allowed, parking and more.

“I was hoping today’s discussion would come to the point,” Shipley said. “The Planning Commission has pushed it back on us. We have to flush out parts before we can vote.”

The Planning Commission has already vetted the issue and has sent a recommendation to the council to expand ADUs to citywide use, according to Cliff Strachan, executive director of the council.

“You have a draft ordinance from the planning commission in front of you,” said Brian Jones, legal counsel. “Its past time for the council to stop brainstorming and take the ordinance that has been placed before you.”

Councilman David Harding added that, “at least on legal opinion — state law — says ADUs are permitted everywhere.”

Harding motioned to have the discussion in the Nov. 30 council meeting and have it be considered the first of two public hearings. The final hearing and vote will be held in the Dec. 14 meeting, the last of the year and his last on the council. Harding has been on the housing committee.

“My hope is to have a vote by the end of the year because of HB82 and the legislature,” Harding said.

That motion was amended to have it on both the work session and regular session Nov. 30. The council voted unanimously to continue the discussion.

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