Proposed Code Amendments

Accessory Dwelling Unit (LDC21-003)

What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?

An Accessory Dwelling Unit is a smaller, independent residential unit that includes a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping quarters and can be contained within a single-family detached home or be a separate, detached building on the same lot as a principal dwelling.  If the ADU is a detached, separate building, it should be designed to have a similar appearance and character to the single-family residence.

Arapahoe County is proposing expanding the range of housing options by adding Accessory Dwelling Unit regulations in the Land Development Code, which is the County’s zoning code. Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, are secondary, smaller living units that can be added to, created within, or built adjacent to a single-family home. Currently, ADUs are not allowed in unincorporated Arapahoe County.

Why would ADUs be allowed in Arapahoe County?

Many counties and cities have adopted regulations to allow ADUs to provide additional housing options for their citizens. These include Adams, Elbert, Jefferson and Larimer counties and cities in Arapahoe County such as Aurora, Englewood, Littleton and Sheridan. ADUs would provide:

  • Housing for senior family members, caregivers, or adult children
  • Rental income to homeowners
  • An option to help the County and individual property owners address the growing issue of housing affordability and availability in unincorporated areas
  • For efficient use of existing infrastructure.

 What is included in the proposed ADU regulations?

 The proposed ADU regulations would:

  • Allow both attached and detached ADUs in all Agricultural and most Residential zoning districts on lots of at least 5,000 square feet 
  • Require detached ADUs in urban areas to be located in the rear or side yard, behind the principal dwelling 
  • Limit ADU square footage based on the size of the lot and/or the principal dwelling 
  • Create minimum design requirements 
  • Require off-street parking 
  • Require owner occupancy of the principal dwelling or the ADU 
  • Except for large properties of 19 or more acres, allow a maximum of two bedrooms.

You can view a summary of the regulations on this Fact Sheet and the current draft regulations.

It is important to note that if you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, ADUs may not be permitted. Please check with your HOA for more information. 

The Process 

The County started this process with a survey in fall 2021, which indicated support for ADUs in the urban and rural parts of the County. Check out the survey results. Planning staff met with the Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) during study sessions in May and September 2022. In February 2023, another study session was held with the BOCC. The County also reached out to partner agencies, such as fire districts, water and sanitation districts, utility providers and registered homeowner associations. Additional public comment was also gathered in an online survey that was done in January 2023.  

Get Involved  

The Arapahoe County Planning Commission considered the draft regulations during public hearings on March 21 and May 16, 2023. The regulations are scheduled for a public hearing before the Board of County Commissioners on July 11, 2023. Comments about the draft regulations can be directed to Gretchen Ricehill:

You are also invited to attend the Board of County Commissioners’ public hearing to voice your opinion regarding the draft regulations. The meeting agenda with participation instructions will be posted on about one week prior to the hearing.  You can also use this link to see videos of the March 21 and May 16 Planning Commission hearings and to access meeting minutes, staff reports and related documents.