The legislation stems from a dispute in Bethesda’s Battery Park neighborhood, where a Del Ray Avenue property owner who is renting out the principal home wants to build a two-story guest house with a garage in her backyard she can use when she visits the area.
Neighbors decried the guest house plans as a loophole in accessory apartment law and organized to present their case before the county Board of Appeals and bring it before Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park.
Floreen introduced Zoning Text Amendment 12-15, which would require a property owner to live at the main residence before building a guest house. Her Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee recommended approving the measure by a 3-0 vote.
An attorney for Rina Levy, who lives in Israel and rents out the main house on the 5000 block of Del Ray Avenue, said the garage is a needed improvement for the property, as the main house does not have a covered garage. She also said Levy never intended to rent out the guest house to a separate tenant, another concern of neighbors.
County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) recommended adding a provision to the bill that would prohibit a guest house on the same lot where an accessory apartment is located.