The Lehi City Council approved an amendment to city code Tuesday to allow residents to build accessory dwelling units above or on the side of garages on parcels greater than half an acre.

The amendment will allow “for a detached ADU as a conditional use” on lots that are at least 22,000 square feet in size, according to a report presented to the city council.

Additionally, the ADUs must contain at least 300 feet of living space, be attached to a garage that is at least 12 by 20 feet and be at least 5 feet away from the property line.

Lehi planning staff approved a earlier version of the amendment in October 2020 after finding the amendment “is not detrimental to the public health, safety, and welfare of the city” and “provides additional life-cycle housing options within existing neighborhoods."

“Planning Staff has the opinion that increasing the availability for ADU’s will have a positive impact on housing for Lehi City,” the report read. “Studies show that ADU’s can have a positive impact on housing affordability, different housing options, and the potential for life cycle housing.”

“The General Plan Land Use element includes goals to increase the supply and type of housing available in Lehi,” the report continued. “Allowing over-garage ADU’s will all for one more type of unit in Lehi. The qualification that the parcel must be great(er) than a half an acre in size will limit the areas where these can go. Only allowing them on larger lots, at least to start with, may prevent the perception of overcrowding in single family residential areas.”

On Dec. 8, Councilmember Katie Koivisto moved to table the proposal and direct staff “to analyze possible percentages for this type of use and analyze the demand on infrastructure in the appropriate area, and also look at adding the ADU use to the side of the garage,” according to the report. 

Residents Robert and Diane Myers, the applicants for the code amendment, asked that the language read that the unit “can be above or beside the garage, rather than just above the garage.”

During the Lehi City Council meeting Tuesday, Lehi Community Development Director Kim Struthers said the proposal had been revised to allow units either beside or above the garage “to kind of give those other options that I know the applicant had originally wanted in their proposal.”

"We feel good about it,” Struthers said, adding that the proposal had the support of building, engineering and safety officials.

Councilmember Chris Condie asked whether the code amendment would benefit residents who want to build office spaces beside or above detached garage. Struthers replied that the amendment would only regulate living spaces.

"This only applies when you're trying to use it as a separate dwelling,” he said.

Councilmember Mike Southwick said he was glad that the latest version of the proposal included ADU units adjacent to garages.

“Because I think that could benefit a lot of older people, parents or grandparents that need to live someplace but still feel like they're on their own, but they're close to family that can take care of them,” Southwick said. “And they wouldn't be able to do that climbing the stairs.”

The Lehi City Council approved the amendment unanimously. 

Previously, Lehi city code stated that “no accessory building or structure shall include a residential dwelling or have kitchen facilities or be rented or otherwise used as a separate dwelling.”

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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