- On July 5, 2022, City Council approved Zoning Text Amendment #2022-00004 addressing Auxiliary Dwelling Units in Commercial Zones
- The text amendment to the Zoning Ordinance changes the name of “Accessory apartments” to “Auxiliary dwellings” and permits these units in the NR zone in addition to all commercial zones where they are currently permitted.
What are Auxiliary Dwellings?
Auxiliary dwellings are not new to the City of Alexandria. Prior to Council's July 2022 adoption of the zoning text amendment, they were known as 'accessory apartments' in the Zoning Ordinance and were classified as residential units that have been allowed above existing commercial spaces.
Regulations varied in the number of accessory apartments permitted in each zone, ranging from 2 to 4 units, and they were only permitted above the first floor of retail/commercial spaces.
The City engaged in this community process to update the regulations making the rules consistent across zones and allowing flexibility for where a unit can be located within a structure.
The goals of the draft text amendment were to:
- Expand housing choice within transit-rich commercial zones while still maintaining continuous active uses along the commercial corridors.
- Allow for flexibility in the location of residential units within commercial structures.
- Currently, residential units can only be located above commercial retail/office spaces. There are many buildings with basements that may be used for apartment units; however, placing an apartment in the basement currently requires a petition for a Special Use Permit (SUP).
- Ensure auxiliary dwelling units are not confused with the newly adopted Accessory Dwelling Unit regulations.
- Initial draft recommendations were available for the community's review and comment through April 19, 2022. Final draft recommendations incorporating Planning Commission and community input were considered by the Planning Commission and City Council during the June 23 and July 5 public hearings, respectively.
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. September 2019. “The Future of Housing in Greater Washington: A Regional Initiative to Create Housing Opportunities, Improve Transportation, and Support Economic Growth.” Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
Contact Marlo J.W. Ford, AICP, Department of Planning and Zoning, 703.746.3841.