Arlington County to allow secondary homes on property

Arlington County is paving the way for some new options when it comes to affordable housing. The county board passed an important zoning ordinance amendment over the weekend that will allow homeowners to essentially build a secondary home on their property.

The new amendment will hopefully create more affordable housing in Arlington and help homeowners find a way to generate some new income.

Two years ago, the county board voted to allow property owners to convert garages into rentable homes. Now, anyone with the space for it will be able to build brand new "detached dwellings" in their yards.

The units must be five feet from neighboring structures. They can range in size from 550 to 750 square feet, must include a bathroom and kitchen and can house up to three people.

The county board chair and planning department are calling this a big win. They say there is definitely a need.

Experts estimate 44 percent -- nearly half of property owners in Arlington County -- have the space to build a separate dwelling.

Critics are concerned about greater density in neighborhoods, including a strain on parking and a possible loss of trees, but most people FOX 5 stopped are happy the amendment passed.

Some new opportunities for area contractors and Arlington isn't alone. D.C. and Fairfax already allow detached dwellings and Montgomery County is looking at easing restrictions.