Thursday, June 17, 2021

Let’s Talk Residential Accessory Dwellings

Residential Accessory dwellings are smaller, independent residential dwelling units that can either be part of the primary residences or a completely separate smaller residential structure located on the same lot as a primary residence.  Residential accessory dwellings units go by many different names including granny/mother-in-law units, secondary suites, backyard cottages, multigenerational homes and a home within a home. In Southlake, the Zoning Ordinance defines residential accessory dwelling units as domestic employee quarters or family living quarters.

Some types of residential accessory dwelling units in Southlake are considered an “accessory use” and can be approved administratively by the City staff if located in certain residential zoning districts. Examples are units attached to or within the principal residential dwelling or units located and part of a detached residential garage.

Other residential accessory dwelling units that are completely separate or detached from the main residential structure require a “special exception use” (SEU) that must be approved by the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA). The ZBA is made of citizens appointed by the City Council and the board has authority per the zoning ordinance to approve a SEU to allow a detached accessory dwelling unit. The board holds a public hearing in the City Council Chambers at Town Hall when considering SEU applications.

Accessory dwelling units cannot be rented out and must be occupied by a person or persons employed on the premise or by a family member of the owner of the premises.

Specific regulations on residential accessory dwelling units can be found in sections 34.2 and 44.12 of the zoning ordinance.

If you would like to apply, application information, fees and submittal schedules are available online.

Applications for residential family/domestic employee quarters and Zoning Board of Adjustment Special Exception Use can be found below:
Residential Family/Domestic Employee Quarters Application
Zoning Board of Adjustment Special Exception Use Application  

For more information, please call Planning and Development Services at 817-748-8621 or fill out the contact form online and a staff member will get back to you within 48 hours.