Council approves ADUs without conflict
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Council approves ADUs without conflict

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They are often known as mother-in-law suites or granny apartments, but they are officially known as accessory dwelling units in the newly passed Rapid City ordinance that establishes a permitting process for the non-traditional rental spaces.

After months of public hearings and meetings about the new ordinance, there wasn't much opposition left. The ordinance passed unanimously Monday with all three comments from the public in favor of the ordinance although there was some discussion about details.

An ADU is defined as an extra dwelling space that has its own cooking, sanitation and sleeping facilities. The intent of allowing these rental spaces is to provide another type of affordable housing in the community. 

The ordinance requires the owner of the property to live either in the main home or the ADU and only one ADU is allowed in each property. An ADU may be contained in the main dwelling, attached to the main home or detached from the main building on the property. It has to have a permanent foundation so trailers and recreational vehicles are not permitted. The two units will have to have unique addresses as well.

The ADU properties are not for short-term leases like an AirBNB or for a vacation rentals. The minimum rental is 28 days, which Community Development Director Ken Young said is consistent with other rental ordinances in the city code. He said this ordinance was a good compromise of all of the concerns that came up during the process.

"You could poll the public until the day the world dies and some will still say it is too restrictive and others will say it is too liberal," Young told the council. "I think it is a good compromise."

Mike Derby, owner of the Canyon Lake Resort said even as the owner of a resort that will compete with the short-term rentals at some ADUs, he was still in favor of the ordinance. He did ask the council to consider making the shortest lease 90 days instead of 28.

Derby told the council that the number of hospitality rooms available in Rapid City increased from 4,000 to 4,300 last year but demand for those rooms dropped by half a percent. He said some of that could have been due to weather or other factors. He said he believes a 90-day minimum helps protect demand for those rooms.

Long Range Planner Sarah Hanzel told the council the ordinance also expanded the required parking regulations for residences. Currently, at least two off-street parking spots are required. If an ADU is on a property, at least one additional spot will be required. 

Chad Lewis said he was initially against the ordinance but he had come around as more information was available. He said he understood the need for the parking regulations, but he "thinks we over regulate parking in this town."

The measure passed unanimously with Becky Drury absent from Monday night's meeting. 

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