GREAT NEWS for West Michigan Tiny Home Owners- City of Grand Rapids “Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)”

Great Lakes Tiny Homes Zoning IntelligenceVolume 5: City of Grand Rapids “Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)” Zoning Ordinance Provision

In my continued research for tiny home friendly areas in Michigan, I recently discovered quite possibly the most tiny house friendly zoning ordinance in Michigan! This ADU provision allows for an ADU within city limits in certain zoned areas, AND it also allows for the ADU to be rented out to someone other than the property owner!!

The only down side I see is that the minimum square footage requirements are listed at 400 sq/ft, which is quite large for a THOW. I am thinking this is a great opportunity for a tiny house owner to apply for a variance for a smaller square footage allowance. The other thing I am not seeing here is the definition of how the ADU must be constructed… but based on other language I found throughout the ordinance, it sounds like the ADU could possibly be on a trailer!! I am going to follow up with the city officials to clarify, but I am very excited about this discovery! I hope you find this information useful!

The City of Grand Rapids definition of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is listed below:

“Accessory Dwelling Unit. Living or sleeping quarters, temporary or permanent, in an accessory structure or other rear building, travel trailer, motor home or other recreation vehicle, auto chassis, boat or portable building, are prohibited unless developed as an Accessory Dwelling Unit.”

Below is a link to the City of Grand Rapids zoning ordinance. I have also included the excerpt from page 145 where the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) provision is contained.

City of Grand Rapids Zoning Ordinance

“Section 5.9.03. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU).

One (1) Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) may be contained within a detached single-family dwelling (primary dwelling unit), included within an accessory structure, or separate from but located on the same lot as a detached single-family dwelling. The Planning Commission shall take into consideration the proximity of a detached Accessory Dwelling Unit to other surrounding residential structures as part of the Special Land Use review.

The following regulations shall apply:

A. Minimum Lot Size. One (1) ADU shall be allowed in conjunction with an existing detached single-family dwelling, located on a lot with a minimum area of five thousand (5,000) square feet.

B. Minimum/Maximum ADU Size. The ADU shall not exceed twenty five (25) percent of the gross floor area of the primary dwelling unit, nor shall it be less than 400 square feet or greater than 850 square feet in gross floor area.

C. Residential Density. The ADU shall not be counted toward maximum residential density requirements.

D. Owner Occupancy. One (1) of the dwelling units shall be owner-occupied. If the ADU is used for lease, it shall be registered with the City as required in Chapter 140 of the City Code.

E. Bedroom Maximum. A maximum of two (2) bedrooms are permitted within an ADU. Occupancy shall be limited to no more than two (2) persons.

F. Leasing or Rental. Leasing or rental of the ADU for tenancies of less than thirty (30) days or to more than eleven (11) different parties in any calendar year shall be prohibited.

G. Alterations or New Construction. Any alterations to existing buildings or structures or the construction of a new structure to accommodate the ADU shall be designed to maintain the architectural design, style, appearance and character of the main building as a detached single-family dwelling, including but not limited to entrances, roof pitch, siding and windows.

H. Front Yard Prohibited. The ADU may not be located within the front yard.

I. Deed Restriction. A deed restriction enforceable by the City shall be recorded prior to the issuance of a building permit stipulating that the ADU may not be conveyed separately from the primary dwelling unit. An alternative form of security may be substituted if it meets the intent of this provision and is approved by the City Attorney.”

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