North Texas

Homeowners Push for Backyard Cottages in Plano

City planners said about 10 to 15 percent of all properties in Plano would qualify

Affordable housing is in short supply across North Texas, particularly in Collin County.

Property values have skyrocketed with a boom in new business.

As a homeowner and realtor, Lisa Ringel knows more space means more value.

Looking to expand, Ringel wants to convert part of her garage into a home for her aging father-in-law.

She has blueprints and is ready to invest $65,000 to get it done.

"We started about two years ago to go to the city to ask about that, but because it's a detached garage they said we couldn't do it," Ringel explained.

Building backyard cottages was front and center at Tuesday's planning and zoning meeting.

So were Ringel and others wanting to build.

"I feel very passionate about this topic and so I'm just here to throw my support behind it," one homeowner told the commission.

Right now, only 141 properties in Plano qualify for a backyard cottage. Of those, only a few actually have one.

Under a new proposal, the number of homes that qualify would jump to thousands with an estimated 295 built over the next 12 years.

"There's a lot of reasons why it makes sense for Plano," Ringel said.

Preliminary plans outlined Tuesday indicate homeowners wanting to build a cottage would need at least a 6,000 square foot lot. The size of the cottage would have to be at least 400 square feet.

City planners said about 10 to 15 percent of all properties in Plano would qualify.

Whether it's a pad for grandpa, an office or property for rent, Plano is opening the door in an aging city seeing housing demand soar.

If backyard cottages are OK'd, they must be permanent structures not on wheels.

Plano's city council could decide on the proposal next month.

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