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A New Missing Middle Housing Bill Introduced in Montgomery County

by Nena Perry-Brown

Missing middle housing typologies. Click to enlarge.

On Tuesday, Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando introduced a zoning text amendment (ZTA) that would permit homeowners in certain zones within a mile of Metro stations to build missing middle housing that corresponds with lot size and conforms to other zoning requirements. For lots within a half-mile of Metro stations, parking requirements would be reduced and lot coverage maximums would be waived. 

"Missing middle housing" is a term that describes multi-unit structures, smaller than mid-rise apartments, that create subtle density in areas more known for single-family housing. This can include anything from townhouses, duplexes, and attached and detached accessory dwelling units to quadplexes, courtyard apartments, and small walk-up apartment buildings. A statewide missing middle housing bill introduced earlier this year has languished in committee.

The proposed ZTA intends to permit multi-unit structures like duplexes, semi-detached houses, and small apartments that retain the massing of a detached single-family house in R-60 zones. The ZTA only pertains to lots smaller than 25,000 square feet. 

Councilmember Jawando is also introducing a bill that would implement rent control, of sorts, for apartments within a mile of transit stations (Metro, MARC, and Purple Line) and within a half-mile of bus rapid transit stations. These units would be subject to a set base rent and landlords would only be permitted to raise the rent once a year for occupied units. Landlords would also have the option of "banking" those annual increases for a later date or to increase the rent on a vacated unit. Newly-constructed units would be exempt for five years.

The councilmember cites as an inspiration for these "More Housing for More People" bills the county planning department's Preservation Housing Study, which noted that proximity to transit is a top risk for loss of restricted and naturally-occurring affordable units. The bills are expected to have public hearings in early February and late January.

Montgomery County published a study of missing middle housing two years ago, and also passed a bill this fall to incentivize dense residential development on WMATA-owned sites near Metro stations.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/bills-introduced-in-montgomery-county-would-add-density-and-control-rents-n/17624

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