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Moline City Council amends language to potential Accessory Dwelling Units ordinance

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3D Printing Home Construction

Mighty Buildings production manager Yonah Naftaly stands in front of 3D printed homes being prepared for delivery to its customers earlier this year in Oakland, Calif. Mighty Buildings is now producing 350-square-foot backyard studios, known in the industry as “accessory dwelling units” that can be used as extra bedrooms, playrooms, gyms or home offices. Moline is considering a new zoning ordinance regulating such structures in the city.

The Moline City Council voted to have the draft zoning ordinance for Accessory Dwelling Units amended as the city looks for more opportunities to provide housing.

Council members opted to get rid of the family requirement for ADUs and to instead include a heavy fine if the owner were to utilize the ADU as an Airbnb. An ADU is a smaller, independent residential unit that is located on the same lot as a standalone, single-family home. 

In July, David Silverman of Corporation Council presented council members with a draft ADU zoning ordinance for public input before it goes to the planning commission for a public hearing. At the July 12 meeting, council members raised issues with the ordinance, as presented, saying it was too restrictive, presents practical enforcement issues and was not an appropriate accessory use in the city. 

Seventh Ward Ald. Michael Waldron voted against the motion saying removing the family requirement is his number one issue. 

"I am not against ADU's per se," Waldron said. "I think the relationships is important along with the property owner living on site." 

Third Ward Ald. Mike Wendt said he understood where Waldron was coming from but disagrees with the family requirement of the draft ordinance. Wendt explained that if he were to invest thousands of dollars to build an ADU for his mom to live with him and then she passed away, he would rather see it be put to use than run into the dilemma of tearing it down or letting it sit there. 

"It then becomes what could be affordable housing in our community that somebody could move into," Wendt said. 

With the ordinance currently requiring the property owner of the ADU to reside on the property, Wendt said it gives the landlord every incentive to make sure they have a good tenant living there and that the dwelling is being taken care of. 

Sixth Ward Ald. Pat O'Brien, who also voted against the motion, raised a concern with how to enforce the landlords being required to live onsite because there will still be cases in which there is an absentee landlord. In order to enforce the code, O'Brien said more staff would need to be hired to keep up with potential absentee landlords. 

"In my opinion, it's not going to help housing," O'Brien said. "It's going to drive it down." 

With the possibility of an ADU being turned into an Airbnb, 4th Ward Ald. Matt Timion moved that language be include in the proposed ordinance for a heavy fine if it is used for Airbnb-type purposes. 

Timion said there are cases in which the individual leasing the place then sublets it for however long and that the language would need to be "very specific" in preventing short-term type of living situations. 

The motion to remove the family requirement and add in language preventing Airbnb-type uses passed council 5-3. Further discussion and a public hearing regarding the ordinance will take place at a later date.

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