An effort to overturn Wheat Ridge City Council’s recent approval of accessory dwelling units was said to be on schedule, according to a resident leading a petition drive.
The city defines an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) as a smaller, independent residential building on the same property as a detached single-unit home. ADUs are converted portions of existing homes, additions to new or existing homes, or new or altered stand-alone accessory structures.
Bob Brazell said 15-22 people gathered petition signatures as of Aug. 15.
“We’re hitting our numbers,” he said. “We’re more than half way there. That’s a little bit more than we anticipated.”
The petition drive started July 12, the day after the city council adopted an ADU ordinance on a 7-1 vote with Councilmember Judy Hutchinson opposed.
City Clerk Steve Kirkpatrick outlined the petition process in an email:
• Petition circulators had until Aug. 25 at 5 p.m. to submit their signed petitions with at least 1,757 valid signatures of registered city voters.
• The city clerk’s office has until the close of business on Friday, Sept. 9, to determine if the petition meets requirements. If not, circulators have 10 days to gather and submit more signatures.
• If the petition still has insufficient signatures, the process ends unless a protest is filed.
• If the petition is sufficient, the city council must decide at their next meeting to repeal the ordinance or set a date for a special election to put the issue to city voters. Kirkpatrick said that election would take place in early- to mid-March 2023.
Opponent wants issue put to a vote
Brazell said the “real goal” of the petition is to force the city council to rescind the ordinance and put the issue to a vote.
“Any issue that modifies the zoning of the entire city is something that should be voted on by the people,” he said.
Brazell said he opposed an ordinance provision that delegated decisions on objections to ADUs to a city staffer. Instead, Brazell wanted those issues decided by the city council.
Brazell also stated the ordinance would allow ADUs up to 25 feet high and within five feet of a property line.
“Then you have people staring down into your yard,” he said.
Brazell stated the ordinance would allow someone with a 1,500-square-foot home and a basement ADU to have seven people living on the property, with no requirement for off-street parking.
“We don’t want to be like Denver; we live in Wheat Ridge so our family can have a place to park on the street when they visit,” he said.
The city would require deed restrictions on new ADUs, but Brazell called those hard to enforce. The city would have to go to court, he added, and did not think they would follow through.
He noted if the city requires a license instead of a deed restriction, violators can be fined $1,000 a day for having a non-owner occupied ADU.
Brazell wanted to see a limit on the number of ADUs in each city council district, along with off-street parking and owner-occupied requirements.
“But this council won’t do anything,” he said. “We want Wheat Ridge to remain Wheat Ridge.”
More information on the city’s ADU ordinance can be viewed at ci.wheatridge.co.us/ADU.