Kopczynski steps down

Outgoing Albany City Councilor Ray Kopczynski accepts a key to the city from Mayor Sharon Konopa at Wednesday's council meeting.

People who want to add an accessory dwelling unit to their property will have to wait until at least January for new city rules governing them.

Members of the Albany City Council told Mayor Sharon Konopa on Wednesday they'd prefer she work up an ordinance she supports for discussion rather than going through what would likely be a third veto of the current proposal. That discussion is expected to take place in January. 

"This is now on you, as far as I'm concerned," Councilor Rich Kellum told Konopa.

Kellum had joined councilors Ray Kopczynski, Bessie Johnson and Mike Sykes in twice voting to change the Albany Development Code to allow accessory dwelling units, also known as ADUs, to be a maximum of 900 square feet, up from the current limit of 750.

The four councilors also voted to allow homes with ADUs to have one of their three required parking spaces be off-site if not enough room were available to accommodate all three on the site, and to remove a condition that states the property owner must live in either the primary or secondary residence on the property.

Bill Coburn and Dick Olsen voted against the proposed changes both times. Konopa used her veto power on both occasions to side with them, saying she believes larger ADUs put too much strain on neighborhood infrastructure. She said she also believes the homeowner should live on the property to keep outside developers from buying up subdivisions for multiple ADU placements.

Accessory dwelling units are detached, extra living units on property that also contains a primary dwelling. Residents often use them as in-law apartments or room for grown children.

The issue came before the council in June because of changes in state law that allow ADUs in any neighborhood zoned for single-family residences. Albany's current code restricts ADUs to certain areas.

State law doesn't specify a size or an ownership requirement for ADUs, however, and Konopa has said she'd like to stay with Albany's current code restrictions.

"This was kind of shoved on us from the state," she said. "So let's go with the minimum standard."

In other business Wednesday, the council voted 5-1, with Coburn dissenting, to accept a 5.7 percent rate increase from Republic Services, which will take effect in January.

Republic Services operates under a franchise agreement with the city of Albany. Since 2012, the agreement has based rate changes on a refuse rate index formula that takes into account disposal costs, the price of fuel and the Consumer Price Index. Rising fuel costs prompted the increase this year.

Marilyn Smith, spokeswoman for the city, noted the franchise agreement, while used to set a regular rate formula, does not limit the council's authority to modify rates if it determines it is necessary. 

Councilors opened Wednesday's meeting by honoring Kopczynski, who decided not to run for re-election and is now stepping down from representing Ward II-A. He will be succeeded by Alex Johnson II.

Kopczynski joined the council as an appointee in 2011 and was elected outright in 2014.

Konopa honored him Wednesday with a key to the city and thanked him for his work, especially his efforts to keep in touch with readers on social media platforms to explain city policies and practices.

Kopczynski said he plans to stay involved with city issues.

"I got a perverse enjoyment out of the give and take," he said of council meetings. "People don't realize 90 percent of the time, we agree. It's the other times that make it more fun." 

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