ALBANY -- More secondary residential units will be allowed in the city under municipal code amendments approved May 14 by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Secondary units, also known as "in-laws," are usually smaller buildings constructed in the backyard of owner-occupied properties. Among the goals of the amendments is to create more affordable housing in Albany.

The unanimous vote (Commissioner Doug Donaldson was absent) allows preparation of an amendment that will be finalized later.

Staff proposals include eliminating the 12-foot height limit, reducing setback standards to accommodate the conversion of existing structures, and clarifying parking standards. Most important, secondary units would be allowed "by right" in the R-2 residential zone. They are currently only allowed by right in the R-1 zone.

The commission also discussed an amnesty program for getting currently "illegal" units legalized, but no action was taken.

Wireless rules

Proposed changes to the city's wireless ordinance were also presented at the meeting.

The city's current ordinance, adopted in 2005, has fallen out of compliance with federal law, which now requires cities to approve any requested modifications of an existing tower or facility that does not substantially change the physical dimensions.

Cities are also not allowed to take into account radiation concerns in approving towers and facilities.

Public comment on the proposed wireless changes was mixed.

Caryl O'Keefe spoke in favor of the changes.


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Catherine Sutton was opposed, telling the commission, "don't be bullied."